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A LATAM Airlines Boeing 787-9 departing LAX (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

The Current State of the Aviation Industry in Central and South America

Aviation in Latin America has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The three main airlines in the region: LATAM, Avianca and Aeroméxico, have declared bankruptcy and filed for the Chapter 11 process in the U.S. Latin American governments have not given enough help to the aviation industry. In this sense, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has made a summary of the progress of the sector until this month, compared to the 2019 statistics.

“The countries of Latin America are reopening step by step, however, there are still too many individual rules and regulations; this places a heavy burden on airlines and does not help stimulate demand”, said the IATA Vice President for Latin America, Peter Cerdá, presented in an online presentation, a country-by-country report on the state of air travel in Latin America.

A Breakdown By Country

Argentina: Although only foreigners from neighboring countries are allowed to enter Argentina. According to hosteltur, there currently is a 45-minute separation of flights arriving at Buenos Aires’s Ezeiza Airport.

Chile: From Nov. 23, foreigners will be allowed to enter Chile through the Pudahuel Airport in Santiago as long as they comply with current health regulations. The Minister of Transport, Gloria Hutt explained that “the health authority ordered that all people who enter, regardless of the country of origin, must carry the negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test, which has to be carried out up to 72 hours before the moment of entry to Chile.” Likewise, passengers must carry the Affidavit for Travelers that is available at www.c19.cl and health insurance. Foreigners will also be subject to a “Travelers Surveillance Period” for 14 days after entering the country.

Uruguay: maintains its strict quarantine rules. Uruguay is the only country in America that has not been designated as high risk by the European Union.

Colombia: There are capacity restrictions in Bogotá and other airports within the country. It is necessary to increase the number of operations per hour complying with worldwide guidelines so that airlines can adequately plan their schedules.

Peru: Airlines continue to face operational restrictions both at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima and at other terminals around the country. Lima is a hub and it should be allowed to function as such, facilitating timely transfer connections between flights, both national and international.

Ecuador: The South American country maintains non-mandatory negative PCR COVID-19 tests to enter the country that can be exchanged for ten days of quarantine.

Mexico: There is a strong recovery in the market, both national and international. Several airlines have largely restored capacity, reaching between 80% and 100% of last year’s levels, especially in the domestic market.

Panama: As announced on Oct. 12, Tocumen International Airport restarted international flights to all passengers after a prior successful restart of international operations with only Panamanian citizens or its residents as passengers.

Although it is true that a slow recovery is appreciated, many Latin American airlines are still in danger of bankruptcy. Governments in Latin America need to be more flexible with the regulations for the aviation industry reactivation. So far no critical cases of infections resulting from passenger air transport have been reported. The requirements to fly are very strict and are sufficient to prevent new infections, making it possible to authorize more air operations.

Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
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