A recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in South America has forced American Airlines (AA) to cut routes to Brazil, Chile, and Peru. Citing a reduced customer demand to several South American counties due to an uptick in coronavirus cases, American Airlines is pulling back on capacity to the south.
The flights affected originate from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and Miami International Airport (MIA). Despite moving to ramp up the number of flights it is operating in the United States, Fort Worth-based American Airlines will reduce the frequency of flights to Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
South America sees a surge in COVID-19
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), South America is in the midst of a surge in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. The international public health agency is blaming lax mask use and social distancing for fueling new variants of the virus. The PAHO reports that more than 1.3 million new cases were reported in the last week alone.
When speaking at a weekly news conference, Reuters quotes PAHO Director Carissa Etienne as saying that vaccinations will not be enough to stop the current wave.
“Highly transmissible variants are spreading, and social distancing measures are not as strictly observed as before,” Etienne said. “We are not acting like a region in the midst of a worsening outbreak.”
Etienne noted that more people had been infected with COVID-19 in the region during the last seven days than at any weekly period last year. According to the PAHO, more than 1.3 million people in South America had become infected, and that nearly 36,000 had died.
“There are simply not enough vaccines available to protect everyone in the countries at greatest risk,” Etienne said. “We need to stop transmission by any means possible with the tools we have at hand.”
AA flights to Manaus are suspended
American Airlines had planned to fly daily roundtrip flights from DFW to Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) but will now cut that back to four flights per week. American Airlines’ daily service to Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, will be scaled back to three flights per week.
From New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, American Airlines is suspending its service to Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, Chile. The service was scheduled to begin on May 7 and has now been pushed back until July 2. Services from JFK to Sao Paulo will also be reduced to three flights per week.
From American Airlines’ premier South American launching pad MIA, flights to Rio de Janeiro/Galeão International Airport (GIG) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be reduced from daily to three times per week. All flights from Miami to Manau International Airport AM Eduardo Gomes (MAO) in Manaus, Brazil, will be suspended until November 1, 2021.
A reduction in the number of flights to South America is a trend seen around the world, where setbacks in some places counter short-term good news.
Leisure destinations are popular
While American Airlines may be scaling back South American flights, the outlook for domestic leisure flights is healthier. Last week, American Airlines announced that it hoped to be operating as many as 90% of the domestic flights during the summer that it flew before the pandemic.
As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out in the United States, American Airlines says it sees an uptick in interest for leisure flights to popular vacation hot spots. Chief among them are destinations in Florida, Mexico, and Rocky Mountain states.
With the uncertainty of flights from the United States to Europe still unclear, it would seem as though many people are looking to vacation closer to home. We could see more reductions in frequencies regarding South America unless countries like Brazil, Chile, and Peru can get more people vaccinated and gain the upper hand.
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