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Strategic Development Plan Feasibility Study for Tocumen International Airport

Accommodating Dramatic Growth in Panama
Accommodating Dramatic Growth in Panama

Location: Panama City, Panama

At the crossroads of the Americas, Panama is a major business and tourism destination with a unique hubbing environment.  The Panamanian economy has grown dramatically since the national government assumed control on the Panama Canal, blossoming into not only the transportation hub of Central America, but also into the financial hub of the region.  Airport activity at Tocumen has grown rapidly since 2000, reflecting the economic strength of the country.  In 2011, the Airport served 5.9 million annual passengers, and traffic was expected to grow an astounding 19% in 2012.  Growth in passenger traffic is forecast to continue at a compounded annual growth rate of 6.2% through 2030, tripling traffic to more than 18 million annual passengers.  Growth is not limited to passenger traffic, as cargo companies are increasing operations at the Airport, such as DHL, which operates a central process facility at the Airport.  Air cargo tonnage is expected to more than double from approximately 82,000 metric tons in 2010 to 206,000 metric tons in 2030.

LeighFisher was retained by the Airport by means of a grant offered by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to create a development plan that would accommodate the dramatic growth expected to occur at the Airport and to assess the financial feasibility of the plan.  The primary objectives were to: (1) position Tocumen to remain as one of the largest passenger hubs in the Latin America and Caribbean region, (2) develop the Airport into a premier cargo hub, (3) establish a long-term vision for the terminal complex, (4) optimize the potential of developable lands, and (5) ensure financial feasibility of future capital expenditures (CapEx). 

As part of the plan, LeighFisher prepared aviation activity forecasts; an airfield capacity study; facility requirements for key airport elements; a financial capacity analysis; comprehensive alternatives and a preferred development plan for the airfield (including the analysis of the location of a new runway), terminal, and other aviation facilities; a cargo development plan and strategy; a commercial development plan and strategy; financial analyses, including projected revenues, capital costs, operating costs, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA); a preliminary environmental assessment; and an economic impact study.  LeighFisher’s development plan was adopted in 2012, and a Request for Proposals was issued in August 2012 for design-build services to construct the Strategic Development Plan.  As of fall 2013, construction was on schedule, having re-routed the Tocumen River and initiated construction of a new South Terminal and accompanying concourse.

Key Highlights: 
  • Created a financially feasible development plan that allows for construction of a new terminal, a new concourse providing 26 additional gates, an expanded cargo complex, and a new runway
  • Provided strategic recommendations that included the development of a commercial center at the Airport with retail space, a research and technology park, a free-trade zone, and a hotel/conference center
  • Produced a plan that accommodates triple the current passengers and double the current aircraft operations within 20 years
  • Produced a plan that makes financial recommendations that would increase revenues per passenger by 10% over 20 years, increasing an already strong EBITDA margin and a higher financing capacity
Services Include: 
Financial Planning
Financial Feasibility Studies
Rates and Charges Analysis
Commercial Development
Demand Forecasting
Airfield and Airspace Planning
Terminal Planning
Roadway and Ground Transportation
Freight and Logistics
Master Planning
Environmental Assessments and Regulatory Compliance

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