The modernization of El Salvador International Airport, the country's only commercial air terminal, will require an investment of over $490 million over the next 18 years, the government said Monday.

That figure represents the total projected costs of the first two phases of restoration and modernization, which are already underway, and the plan of expansion, the chairman of the CEPA port authority commission, Alberto Arene, told a press conference.

With this plan, airport capacity will progressively increase "from some 1.6 million passengers annually to 6.6 million by the year 2032, allowing the airport to absorb the increase in passenger traffic up to the year 2040," Arene said.

At the same time, the project will create an accumulated total of 157,000 direct jobs and 275,000 indirect jobs.

The plan was worked up by Florida firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. under a contract with CEPA and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

El Salvador International, located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from San Salvador, has been in operation since 1980 and has a runway 3,200 meters (2 miles) long.

Engineer and Kimley-Horn executive Jorge Gonzalez said that with the completion of the project, the Salvadoran airport will "in the vanguard of the Central American region." EFE