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A Sky Airlines A320neo (CC-AZC) at Arequipa Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon Airport. (Photo: Sky Airlines)

South American SKY Airline Temporarily Suspends Operations

Chile born SKY Airline has announced it will be temporarily suspending operations from March 25 to April 30 due to a significant slump in demand as governments throughout the region implement travel restrictions to slow COVID-19s contagion curve and passengers suspend short term travel. The news was first reported by specialized Chilean portal Desde SCL.

Last week the company had to suspend all of its operations in and from Peru as the government suspended all commercial flights for 14 days as the country entered a national quarantine. Since last April SKY operates a subsidiary in Peru, where it serves 12 domestic destinations and was set to launch two international destinations from the country’s capital of Lima in the first half of the year.

At that time, the carrier implemented a series of contingency measures including reducing 50 percent of international capacity from Chile while reducing domestic operations in Chile to a minimum, as the Chilean government hadn’t implemented restrictions on domestic travel. However, as health authorities commented that the infection curve will rise in the next few weeks, the airline is in need to take additional measures, grounding aircraft until April 30.

Meanwhile, the country has also gone into lockdown and citizens are urged to stay at home, while foreigners are temporarily not allowed into the country.

In a statement, Holger Paulmann, SKY’s CEO said: “The health and safety of our staff and passengers is our main priority. This is why we have been responsible and taken this decision, which will allow us to manage through the peak in the virus spread and resume operations in slightly over a moth’s time. Today it is required that we stop flying and This is a measure of commitment and responsibility with the world”.

The airline aims to resume operations on May 1. Passengers scheduled to travel before April 30 will be able to get reimbursed the price on their tickets in the form of credits to use with the airline to fly between May 1 and November 30. This is a common technique used by airlines in order to avoid losing cash in the form of refunds and instead encourage flyers to postpone their travels to a later date.

SKY is both Chile and Peru’s second-largest domestic operator. The airline operates a fleet of 21 A320 family aircraft, including 17 A320neos, as it undergoes a significant fleet renewal program that would see the airline’s entire fleet be operated by next-generation aircraft.

Aside from domestic flights in both countries, the carrier operates from its home in Santiago to international destinations such as Buenos Aires in Argentina, Montevideo in Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Additionally, the airline was set to launch flights from its Lima base to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Cancun in Mexico, both popular holiday destinations for South American flyers. At the time of writing it is not known whether their launch will be deferred. 

Jose Antonio Payet
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