The Colombian government announced that it is relaunching the commercial domestic air services from 1 September. Does this mean that you’ll be able to visit Colombia from that date? Not exactly, as there’s still a long road ahead. Let’s investigate further.
How will the restart be made?
Colombia closed its airspaces in March when the coronavirus pandemic was just arriving in Latin America. It forbade domestic and international routes, leaving carriers like Avianca, EasyFly, and Viva Air wholly grounded. For months, the government pushed back the reopening date as it saw how the coronavirus cases grew domestically. Eventually, it said that it would allow international travel from 31 August, but we don’t think that’s going to happen. As of 11 August, Colombia has almost 400,000 cases and is in the top 10 worldwide.
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Nevertheless, Colombia can’t keep its airspace shut any longer. Avianca and LATAM are in Chapter 11. EasyFly is in a reorganization process under the Colombian law, meaning that over 80% of the domestic market share in the country is in jeopardy. Viva Air could grow after the pandemic as many low-cost carriers in the region will. SATENA is a State airline so it won’t disappear easily.
Still, the Colombian government is trying to keep its borders closed. That’s why it is now evident that the country won’t restart international operations by the end of this month. Instead, it is launching several test domestic flights across several cities. According to El Tiempo, the first test route will be from Bogota to Barranquilla or Cartagena. Following that flight, Colombia would restart three more domestic routes, which could be operated by EasyFly.
When will we see international flights?
The big question that remains at the moment is when will the international flights restart in Colombia. As we’ve seen, Colombia is not doing great against the coronavirus outbreak. And on a regional scale, South America is not doing great against the pandemic. Between Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina, we have over five million total COVID-19 cases. That’s 25% of the total number of cases worldwide.
With that in mind, it is easy to see why some Governments like Argentina and Colombia are pushing back the reopening dates for international travel.
Although Colombia hasn’t said when international flights would be allowed again, we may take into account what Argentina is currently doing. The Ministry of Transport of this country said that commercial air services could return in the next 60 days. Maybe by the end of October, we will see some international flights in Bogota and other major Colombian cities and Argentina.
But that’s not for sure. South American governments have kept their decisions close to the chest, annoying passengers, and airlines alike.
What’s going on with Avianca lately?
Avianca is currently under Chapter 11 in the US. The carrier is grounded in Colombia and El Salvador and is making some operations in Ecuador.
This week, the oldest Latin American airline obtained a biosecurity certificate from the Colombian government. This certificate means that Avianca has taken measures to protect its clients from getting COVID-19. Nevertheless, it is still waiting to restart its flights. David Alemán, Avianca’s director for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, said to Simple Flying this,
“We’re ready to open up our domestic and international flights, but we are waiting for the local authorities to lift the current restrictions. We are certain that the restart of the flights will be slow and depend on the demand that the markets show. Additionally, we launched the Avianca BioCare program to fly with a biosecurity protocol in place, making our journeys safer.”
When do you think Colombia will open up its airspace for international travelers? Let us know in the comments.