MIAMI – Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez announced today that Colombia will reopen 15 airports, including Bogota’s El Dorado Airport (BOG) in September to restart the country’s aviation sector. 

Restarting flights in Latin America is a necessary measure for the region’s aviation industry to survive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Latin American commercial aviation industry has been one of the hardest hit. 

In the past months, we have seen LATAM (LA) file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, LATAM Argentina cease operations, and Avianca Holdings file for bankruptcy, among others, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the industry. 

Peter Cerdá, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas said, “aviation’s prospect to restart is good news which will allow for the resuming of mobility and integration of the country.”

He continued, “With this decision, the sector and its extensive value chain, which includes tourism and commerce in Colombia, can begin to rebuild.”

PHOTO: Vincenzo Pace

Aviation and Economic Development

This news was highly anticipated by the IATA (International Air Transport Association), who have been pushing for airports to reopen in order to stimulate economic development in the region. 

According to a recent press release, “before the crisis, aviation generated some US$ 7.5bn to the Colombian economy, equivalent to 2.7% of the country’s GDP, and supports some 600,000 direct and indirect jobs.” 

Rebuilding the aviation sector of Colombia’s economy will be one of the focal points in maintaining a strong growth period after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. 

Photo: Avianca.

COVID-19 Transmission Concerns

Despite concerns that reopening the aviation industry will increase COVID-19 transmissions, Colombian authorities have approved biosafety protocols to protect against possible transmissions. 

According to IATA, “more than 70,000 passengers have traveled in the last five months on humanitarian flights and the first test route between Bucaramanga and Cúcuta, which has transported more than 1,000 passengers, indicating that there is a demand for the reactivation of the sector in the country.” 

Since then, there have been no known transmissions of COVID-19 from those humanitarian and test flights. 

Thus, IATA is confident that the safeguards put in place by the airlines will be sufficient in preventing the spread of COVID-19 through air travel.

Featured image: El Dorado Airport, Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Wiki Commons.