Country Profile – History – Airlines

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Lineas Aereas Costarricenses S.A. (LACSA) was founded in the 1940’s by a group of Costa Rican citizens aware of the need for a well-organized flying service to cover the country. With the financial aid of the Costa Rican Government and Pan American World Airways, LACSA was formed: 40% from the Government, 40% from Pan American and 20% from public sales.

LACSA started its operations on June 1, 1946, with an initial fleet of two DC-3 planes flying between San Jose and the towns of Parrita, Palmar, Golfito, Las CaƱas, Liberia, Sardinal, Tempisque, Hacienda El Viejo, La Cruz, Puntarenas, Los Chiles, Upala, Puerto Limon, Guapiles, Sixaola and others. The first international flights were to Nicaragua, beginning in 1947.

Two years later the company bought two Curtis C-45 planes and began freight and passenger service to Miami and Mexico. The same year, Decree-Law No. 35 appointed LACSA as the national airline.

Beginning in 1950, flights to and from San Jose, Panama, Havana, Miami, San Salvador and Mexico were organized. In the same year, LACSA obtained a licence to land on the Grand Cayman Island, B.W.I. and established a sister company, Cayman Airways, Ltd.

In 1954, LACSA bought two Convair CV-340 planes for its international flights. Due to political circumstances, the flights to Havana were canceled in 1960.

In 1963, the company sold the two Convairs and replaced them two DC-6B planes to increase the efficiency of its international freight and passengers flights.

In 1966, celebrating its 20th birthday, LACSA bought its first jet -a BAC-111/400- to meet the rising passenger, freight and mail demands. A second BAC-111/400 was purchased in 1969, and the third -of the 500 series- in 1971. Meanwhile, domestic flights were covered with Beechcraft equipment until the late 1960’s.

In 1970, the company began a transformation of its administrative activities, dividing functions into specialized areas. An Executive Presidency was created and three Vice-Presidencies for the departments of Marketing, Production and General Services. The Board was reformed to be elected every two years by the Assembly of Shareholders. The Department of Internal Accounting and the Management of National Services were created.

In 1972, LACSA received the most prized yearly award given by COTAL: “The Golden Albatross”, as a reward for its 100% flying safety.

In the same year, the company moved its offices to the district of La Uruca, northwest of San Jose city, where a communications management center with full services of telex, radio and internal mail was established.

In 1973, the Miami office opened a computerized reservation system, and a short time later a similar system was created for the company’s entire flying network.

1973 also saw the birth of the LACSA’s Ground School, to train personnel in all branches of the company’s activities.

The Financial Management Office, and the Public Relations Department, were founded in 1975.

In 1976 computer services were improved by purchasing new equipment.

The international routes to and from San Jose, Miami, Grand Cayman, Mexico, El Salvador and Panama were strengthened. International flights to Barranquilla, Maracaibo and Caracas began. LACSA is the Costa Rican agent of British Airways and VIASA.

The company has a personnel of more than nine hundred people counting San Jose, national agencies within the country and international offices. These employees are organized into a Savings Association (ASA-LACSA) which owns a package of the company’s shares, and investment of almost nine hundred thousand dollars, giving an annual interest rate of 14.11%.

The annual number of international passengers increased very fast since the years; 1970/1971 (136.973 passengers) 1971/1972 ( 159.317 passengers) 1972/1973 (161.624 passengers) 1973/1974 (205.816 passengers) 1974/1975 (217.237 passengers) 1975/1976 (231.026 passengers) 1976/1977 (244.603 passengers) 1977/1978 (274.763 passengers).

Source: Who’s Who In Costa Rica 1979 1980.