Colombia Could Soon Start Opening To International Flights

Colombia restarted its domestic flights on September 1st, after a hiatus of five months. Now, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects that the country will begin international travel on 21 September. IATA also said that the local authority has nine countries in its shortlist as destinations allowed. Let’s investigate further.

Colombia will have international travel from 21 September. Photo: Getty Images.

Bogota will not have international travel

Andrés Uribe, regional manager of IATA in Colombia, said today that the Colombian authorities would allow international travel from three cities: Cartagena, Cali, and Medellin. If this happens, Bogota would be left behind at the beginning. Uribe said that nothing is confirmed yet, so the shortlisted cities could change before 21 September.

Meanwhile, Cartagena’s mayor, William Dau Chamat, said that his city already has the green light to restart international connectivity. For Cartagena, a historic Colombian town that lies in front of the Caribbean, tourism is vital. Dau Chamat said,

“Domestic flights are already back. On 21 September, we will have back the international connectivity. We received the notification from the president himself, Iván Duque.”

But why is Bogota still closed for international connectivity? While El Dorado International Airport authorities are working to fulfill the biosafety protocols for the resumption of international operations, Colombia’s capital city is still the largest hotspot of COVID-19 cases. Colombia has over 672K cases of COVID-19; Bogota has recorded 33% of those cases.

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The Colombian Government will give a US$370 million loan to Avianca. Photo: Getty Images

What about international connectivity?

According to IATA, the Latin American airlines have been at 5% of their planned capacity during the pandemic. This is because Governments across the region have imposed severe restrictions on the aviation industry. In consequence, some carriers have entered reorganization processes like Avianca, Aeroméxico, and LATAM. Others have disappeared like TAME Ecuador. But now, slowly, the South American skies are opening up.

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The Colombian Government has shortlisted nine countries to connect from 21 September, said Uribe. According to the IATA Manager in Colombia, those countries are the US, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Nevertheless, he added that more countries could follow shortly. But also he warned that this international connectivity depends on the restrictions that any of the other countries might have. For instance, the European Union is still banning people from every American nation except for Canada and Uruguay.

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Colombian airlines restarted domestic flights last week. Photo: Getty Images

How are Colombian airlines doing right now?

Lastly, Peter Cerdá, regional vice-president of IATA for the Americas, sent a message to the Colombian Government. He said that, while the State loan in Avianca is something good, the Government shouldn’t leave behind the rest of the airlines. Avianca is set to receive up to US$370 million in a loan from the Colombian Government, which has been very controversial in the South American country.

Nevertheless, it seems like the rest of the Colombian airlines are doing fine right now. It has been one week since the domestic travel restarted. Viva Air, the low-cost operator, said that it has transported over 12,000 passengers in 106 flights while posting a load factor of over 60%. Meanwhile, LATAM Colombia also claimed to have a 70% load factor.

While the numbers are still far away from 2019, it is a good sign that the market could be recovering in Colombia.

Are you eager to travel back to Colombia? Let us know in the comments.