TODAY NICARAGUA – While Copa Airlines decided to expand the number of flights in February to Managua, at least three US airlines continue to resist returning to Nicaragua.
American and United Airlines both informed that they will no longer operate flights this month, as had been planned, and that it will tentatively be until March and April, respectively.
Spirit is the third U.S. airline that is reluctant to return. The Mexican airline, Aeromexico, also maintains the same policy.
Unlike the other two, Spirit, characterized by offering low-cost flights, does not even have a tentative date, which represents a blow to those who aspire to travel to the United States at an affordable price.
Spirit has already returned to several Central American countries, including Costa Rica and Guatemala.
American had planned to return to Nicaragua on February 11. The airline confirmed it is now March 4. Prior to the pandemic, American operated three daily flights between Managua and Miami and connections.
Similarly, United Airlines, which planned to return on February 11, now says it will do so until April 1. Prior to the pandemic, United operated daily flights between Managua and Houston.
For its part, Aeromexico has scheduled March 4, a date that already changed last month and moved from February to next month. Pre-pandemic the Mexican operated two daily flights between Managua and Mexico City.
Since June last year, the airlines have been changing their return dates and are usually tentative.
Since September last year, only the Colombian airline Avianca has been operating flights into and out of Nicaragua, despite its financial problems, as the airline is drowned by the fall in world tourism, the closure of airports and financial crisis dragging prior to the pandemic.
At the end of January, the Panamanian airline, Copa Airlines, announced the restart of operations.
Initially, it had been reported that starting February, it would offer a flight every Thursday, but according to the airline’s schedule, there are flights for February 4, 11,18,19,25, and 26.
The return of Copa partially solved the damages suffered by the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in January, after Conviasa ceased its Managua-Havana flight as of January 1.
The postponement of the restart of airline operations in Nicaragua is due to the measures and protocols adopted by the Ortega regime, demanding that the airlines send a list of their passengers with a negative result of the PCR tests to the Civil Aeronautics authorities and the Ministry of Health, and it also requires test results from the airline crew, the only one in the region.
To this is added that the costs to travel have increased excessively, due to the requirements of the PCR test, not only in Nicaragua but also in other destinations visited by Nicaraguans such as the United States. It is feared that the European Union will also impose this requirement.
In Nicaragua testing is only administered by the central government at a cost of US$150.
While American, United and Spirit continue to delay their restart of operations, Delta has said goodbye for good.
On May 8, 2020, the US airline announced that it was leaving Nicaragua after 15 years of connecting Managua with the United States. Delta’s last flight with Nicaragua was on March 28, 2020, and it had a scheduled return date of May 3 and then it was postponed to June 13 of that year..
Then it surprised with the decision to withdraw from the country entirely when the Government had not yet imposed biosecurity measures against Covid-19.
Until American, United and Spirit resume operations in Nicaragua, passengers have no direct connection with the United States.