Following a rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Government of Chile decided to close its borders for one month. Starting on April 5, all international commercial flights will be suspended, and the airlines will operate only a handful of humanitarian services abroad. What else do we know about it?
On Thursday, the Chilean Government made the announcement, following a daily record of COVID-19 cases in the country (7,830). Recently, Chile became one of the 22 countries that have surpassed the million cases barrier.
Additionally, the country registered the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths since June 2020; therefore, the Government went into action.
The Chilean borders are closed for the next month, starting on April 5. Both Chilean nationals and foreigners are not allowed to leave the country unless they have exceptional needs.
Plus, the Government also shut down many commercial activities, leaving only a handful of essential businesses open. It also established a curfew, starting on Monday, that will be in place between 21:00 and 5:00 every day.
Chile is facing an unfortunate situation. It is currently the country with the highest percentage of vaccinated people in South America, but it is still facing a rising number of COVID-19 cases.
What are the airlines saying?
Chile’s main airlines are LATAM Airlines, JetSmart, and Sky Airline. In 2020, LATAM held a 57.8% domestic market share, while Sky had a 24.5% and JetSmart a 16.7%, according to the Chilean Government stats.
In a statement sent to Simple Flying, LATAM Airlines said,
“Following the announcement made by the Chilean Government regarding the new travel restrictions for international flights, LATAM Airlines Group informed of the suspension of international flights, scheduled to and from Chile, starting on April 5.”
Nevertheless, LATAM will maintain a skeleton schedule during April, allowing humanitarian flights, it added. Plus, those passengers impacted by the border closure will be able to change their tickets free of charge.
Likewise, JetSmart issued a statement asking its passengers to stay in touch with the airline regarding their flight status. The low-cost airline will also do some humanitarian flights during the month.
Meanwhile, SkyAirline hasn’t made an official announcement through its social media. Nevertheless, it maintains a flexible policy for canceled flights available on its website.
How did Chile’s aviation industry do in 2020?
In 2020, Chile had over 9.4 million passengers, both domestic and international. That number was a 65.1% overall decrease compared to the previous year.
Between April, May, June, and July, the country was mostly closed and only allowed skeleton schedules. In August, it started opening. By December, the domestic airlines had nearly recovered half of their pre-pandemic traffic, while international numbers remained depressed.
LATAM Airlines carried 3.68 million domestic passengers, a 58% decrease; Sky Airline had 1.56 million passengers, and JetSmart 1.06 million.
Internationally, LATAM had 1.57 million passengers; Sky, 283,417 travelers; JetSmart, 169,026; Copa Airlines, 139,136; and Iberia, 128,511.
In 2021, nothing has improved. On the other hand, the airline industry decreased once more. The domestic passenger numbers between January and February are 63.5% below 2020’s numbers, before COVID-19. International stats are 80.8% below. Now, with the new measure, Chile’s aviation industry will go down again, hopefully not for a long time.
Are you planning to travel to Chile this year? Let us know in the comments.