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Plans For New Airport At Machu Picchu Cause Controversy

Plans For New Airport At Machu Picchu Cause Controversy
Jackie Reddy

Plans to construct a new airport close to the UNESCO-listed site of Machu Picchu have ignited controversy both in Peru and among the world’s archaeological community. There is fear that increased air traffic could harm the already fragile site, but Peruvian officials say construction will go ahead.

Plans to construct a new airport close to the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu have sparked controversy both in Peru and among the world’s archaeological community, The Guardian reports.

Construction work has already begun on the facility in Chinchero, a town that is located in Peru’s Cusco Region, the area in which this ancient site is located. Currently, air traffic in the region is handled by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), which is unable to accommodate larger craft due to its limited runway.

This proposed new airport would allow for increased international air traffic into the area, something that critics say could jeopardize and even damage the already fragile ruins of Machu Picchu.

Speaking frankly to the outlet, Natalia Majluf, a historian of Peruvian art at Cambridge University, said, “This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas. Putting an airport here would destroy it.”

Majluf has started a petition against the construction of the facility.

Pablo Del Valle, an anthropologist based in Cusco, added, “It seems ironic and in a way contradictory that here, just 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley, the nucleus of the Inca culture, they want to build an airport – right on top of exactly what the tourists have come here to see.”

It also appears that locals are divided on the subject. Speaking to the outlet, resident Alejandrina Contreras said, “We live peacefully here, there are no thieves, there are no criminals. There will be progress with the airport but a lot of things will change.”

Karen Auccapuma, another resident, said, “Think of the noise, the air pollution, the illnesses it will bring.”

However, Peruvian finance minister Carlos Oliva spoke out last month to declare the government’s staunch support for the project.

“This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco. There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction,” he said.

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (2)


  1. dvs7310

    May 20, 2019 at 5:07 am

    I don’t see how building a bigger airport is going to improve much there. The current airport in Cusco is super convenient because it’s right down town. Macu Picchu is limted as to the number of visitors per day and already sells out in advance during high season. The transportation from either Cusco city or Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu is very limited and sells out already, so how is bringing in more tourists a net positive? You’re bringing in people who aren’t going to be able to get tickets during the high season. Could be interesting if there was actually a place to put all these extra tourists, but as the system currently is, there is no use for them.

  2. sdsearch

    May 21, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    This is not an airport AT Machu Pichu. It’s at best only 10% or 20% closer to Machu Pichu than the current CUZ airportt. It will \still take just about as long to get from that airport to Machu Pichu as from the current CUZ airport. You still have to descend into the Sacred Valley, and you still have to go to the other end of the Sacred Valley to get to Machu Pichu..

    I visited Machu Pichu about a year ago, and this airport was already under construction at that time.

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