Everything you need to know about Costa Rica’s first-ever GAT at MROC

PT 3 M minute read

In mid-December 2019, Costa Rica’s first-ever general aviation terminal (GAT) officially opened for business aviation traffic at San Jose (MROC) Juan Santamaría International Airport (MROC/SJO). The opening of the GAT will have a significant and positive enhancement on private operators’ experience in Costa Rica by drastically reducing their time on the ground.

Here’s everything you need to know:

1. About the GAT

Earlier in 2019, it was announced that Aeris Holdings selected GAT SJO, a consortium composed of Universal Aviation Costa Rica and local partners, to manage a new general aviation terminal (GAT) at Juan Santamaría International Airport (MROC/SJO). The new GAT facility is exclusively available to international private operations and is the first facility of its kind in Costa Rica. The GAT will operate under the name GAT SJO General Aviation Terminal.

The GAT is part of the new domestic terminal at MROC, an infrastructure project which includes 15,260 square-feet. Aeris, which has an agreement with the Costa Rican Government to invest and operate MROC until 2026, selected GAT SJO to remodel and manage the GAT following a public request for proposal. Universal Aviation Costa Rica is a member of Universal Aviation, the worldwide ground handling division of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. (Universal®).

2. Location of GAT

The new GAT is located adjacent to the new Domestic terminal (outside of the main one).

Aeris Holdings has designated an exclusive area (attached to the new Domestic Terminal), to operate as a General Aviation Terminal for International Private operators. The facility will provide exclusive areas and private service to crews and passengers.


The same remote parking areas that have been in use will remain. A handler vehicle must be used to travel the distance from the aircraft to the GAT.

3. Who can use the GAT

All private aviation ground handlers, as well as home-based operators (independent owners traveling international) at MROC, are allowed to operate through the GAT.

4. Handlers still required

Ground handlers are still required for all private operators, whether operators use the GAT or not.

5. Using the GAT is optional

The GAT is optional for those customers who want to reduce ground time and improve the experience by eliminating passing by the airline terminal and co-mingling with commercial passengers. The airport may not provide the preferential line for GA anymore.

6. GAT benefits

The GAT will reduce private operators’ time on the ground, making both arrivals and departures much quicker for GA operations.

It will also result in a vastly different experience compared to the current inbound/outbound process, where they are mixed with commercial passengers in shared lines to clear CIQ. Benefits include:

  • An exclusive VIP experience for private operators ( pax lounges, snacks, coffee, meeting rooms, snooze room)
  • Onsite Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ)
  • Reduced ground time from plane to car
  • Accessible through your ground handler of choice
  • No co-mingling with commercial passengers
  • Roof-covered access both roadside and rampside

Private operators will no longer have to clear formalities inside the airline terminal in potentially long lines, and passengers will no longer be separated from their baggage, which was previously mixed into commercial baggage carousels, adding more complexity to the operation and stress to the passengers.

7. GAT Process

Upon deplaning, private passengers will be shuttled by their handling agents a short ride from the parking area to the GAT, which will have a dedicated space for CIQ. All private aviation ground handlers, as well as home-based operators (independent owners traveling international) at MROC, will be allowed to operate through GAT SJO General Aviation Terminal.

Schedule changes

You coordinate all your pre-arrival details with your handler of choice. The handler will coordinate with the terminal.

8. CIQ

GAT-SJO will have CIQ on site. The facility will comply with all the local and international regulations for this type of ops.

9. Pricing

As similar facilities in the region, GAT SJO Will charge a fee per aircraft and per passenger. All users will pay a Terminal fee depending on the MTOW + a Passenger fee + Arrival or departure procedure coordination fee. Please refer to the pricing table at GAT-SJO.com.

10. More information

The GAT’s official website has photos and information: https://www.gat-sjo.com.


The opening of Costa Rica’s first-ever GAT at San Jose (MROC) is a game-changer in terms of elevating the experience on the ground for private operators.