Peru eyes international airport for Cusco

Peru will seek to build an international airport near the southern city of Cusco, a tourist magnet that has long suffered from being unable to receive major flights from abroad, President Ollanta Humala said.

“I will ask Congress to pass a law to build an international airport in Cusco, and I ask for progress to be made on land purchases to that end,” Humala said in a speech marking independence day and his first full year in office.

Cusco is the capital city of the Inca Empire, situated in the Andes mountains of Peru. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Currently, foreign travellers must first stop in Lima before flying to Cusco and on to the fabled Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

There is a small airport in Cusco mainly for domestic flights, but it is surrounded by mountains and is too small for large aircraft.

The Cusco area welcomes about 3,000 tourists a day, many of whom are headed for Machu Picchu.

Humala, 50, a center-left leader whose country's economy has grown at a quick clip largely thanks to booming mining exports, also said he would propose a constitutional amendment on Peruvians' right to water, and pledged to take on terrorism and the drug trade head on.

Peru recently edged out Colombia as the world's top cocaine producer. - Sapa-AFP