TODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaragua is not a priority in connection with reestablishment plans for airlines operating in Central America. Proof of this is that all the airlines that have postponed their return to the country for almost a year, are already offering their services in the rest of the countries of the region.
This leaves Nicaragua’s economy as the most isolated in this matter, as the Daniel Ortega regime refuses to change its sanitary biosafety protocol, the main reason for this bottleneck.
LA PRENSA monitored the airports in the region and it was found that the countries each have at least eight operating airlines and Nicaragua is the only country that has maintained two since September last year.
Currently, only Avianca, the Colombian airline burdened with financial woes since before the pandemic, and the Panamanian airline, Copa, have returned.
Around the region, for example, Guatemala has 11 active airlines: Volaris, Aeroméxico, Delta, Tag, United, Air Canada, American, British Airways, Iberia, Spirit, and Avianca.
Guatemala, despite being one of the countries most affected by Covid-19, has relaxed its requirements to receive international visitors by air. Recently, Guatemala authorized passengers to arrive even if they have not yet had a negative test result, as long as they present proof that they were carried out within the last 96 hours.
In the case of El Salvador, so far, ten lines airines are in operation: Volaris, Iberia, JetBlue, Copa, Delta, United, American, Aeroméxico, Spirit and KLM.
For its part, Honduras has nine operating airlines: Copa, KLM, Air Europa, United, American, Aeroméxico, Spirit, Tag and Avianca.
While Costa Rica has operating 16 airlines, among them: Volaris, Aeroméxico, JetBlue, Avianca, United, Iberia, Air France, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Alaska, American, Spirit, KLM, Copa, Wingo, and Eidelweiss. The number is down from 23 airlines that pre covid provided regular services to the country.
In the case of Panama, which is one of the most important hubs that before the pandemic there are 20 airlines operating, now it has at least 10 operating, among them: Copa, United, KLM, Lufthansa, American, British Airways, Delta, Qatar, Air France, and Avianca.
The list of airlines does not include cargo airlines such as DHL, Fedex, UPS, among others.
Why aren’t the Americans coming to Nicaragua?
Carlos Schutze, president of the Nicaraguan Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (ANAVYT) and vice president of the Nicaraguan National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), stated that the main drawback with US airlines in Nicaragua is the requirement of the Covid- 19 to the crew, since it goes against privacy laws.
“The North American lines in principle cannot operate because of the fact that they cannot require Covid-19 tests from their crew, because of a question of privacy and agreements with unions. Supposedly, that is what they have told us that they cannot demand it from them, that’s why no airline from the United States has restarted operations to Nicaragua,” revealed Schutze.
José Adán Aguerri, former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) agrees with Schutze when stating that to regain connectivity, Nicaragua needs to equate the biosafety protocol at the international level.
“As long as that does not happen, we will not see changes in the decisions of the airlines that have decided to postpone their return to the country. The privacy laws and the same union organizations of the workers and crews of American airlines do not allow this type of demands due to a privacy issue,” said Aguerri.
Schutze explains that the situation in Nicaragua with respect to the other countries is more complicated since before the pandemic there were already problems due to the disturbances caused in 2018.
For his part, Leonardo Torres, president of the Chamber of the Micro, Small and Medium Tourism Enterprise (Cantur) said that Nicaragua has been very limited with connectivity, which is causing the country to lose competitiveness in the region.
“Nicaragua is being left with limited air connectivity, since only this country has two airlines operating, with a very low frequency, while Honduras, which is a country very similar to us, has more than seven connections, in fact, some of those connections, we are waiting for them to confirm us starting in April,” said Torres.
For Torres, it is urgent that a solution be found to the problem, in such a way that he considers it necessary for the airlines to dialogue with the government and find a balance point.
“This situation hurts us in terms of market prices, because it makes us more expensive both for Nicaraguans and for people who want to come to Nicaragua, I believe that now that it has been announced that we are going to have a significant amount of vaccine that should give us help make the measures more flexible, we are going to insist on this issue, I believe that there should be an agreement between the lines and the government,” said Torres.
Source: La Prensa