HAVANA TIMES – Jose Adan Aguerri, ex-president of Nicaragua’s Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), announced an upcoming increase in air traffic to the country. Beginning in June, both Copa and Avianca airlines will offer more frequent flights.
Aguerri insisted, however, that the government must expedite their COVID testing procedures, to speed the departure of outgoing passengers. If not revised, the current clumsy procedures could create a serious problem of passengers missing their flights.
According to Aguerri, beginning June 15th, Avianca will program 18 additional flights a week. “They’ll be adding one flight on the Managua-Miami route. Also, there’ll be three flights daily on the Managua – San Salvador route.” In terms of the Copa flights, “Copa will offer two additional flights every weekday, beginning June 21. Starting July 5, they’ll add one more, and begin flying every day from Monday through Saturday.”
Additionally, AeroMexico announced the resumption of flights to Managua. They’ll be offering three flights a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – beginning July 6th. “If the weekly charter flight from Miami continues, the total flights coming through the airport will then go from 21 weekly flights, to 45,” Aguerri indicated.
He noted that these announcements come without any changes in the conditions the government has established for airlines flying to Managua. The public health protocols imposed by the Nicaraguan government are unique in Central America and extremely heavy-handed. For over a year now, these protocols have kept airlines such as American, United and Spirit from returning to Nicaragua.
Previous to the current announcements from Avianca, AeroMexico and Copa, these airlines had also postponed their dates of return for almost a year. They hoped to convince the regime to make their posture more flexible. Up until now, that hasn’t occurred.
The government demands that all passengers and crew present a current negative COVID test each time they land in Nicaragua. Further, they require this information in advance. These rules have been the principal obstacles keeping the US based airlines from returning, since they violate US laws protecting the disclosure of health information.
Aguerri warned that current problems will increase, unless the government reconsiders. “The authorities currently demand that flight agencies send the COVID test results of passengers and crew to the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health before the passengers enter Nicaragua. By doing so, they’re already causing problems in terms of missed flights. This may well worsen when the number of flights is doubled,” Aguerri warned.
“In addition to what we’ve already suggested, they should allow the decentralization of the PCR tests [for outgoing passengers]. They should allow the tests to be processed in at least three other departmental capitals, for example Esteli, Leon and Juigalpa. That would make it easier and cheaper for those who are traveling from the other departments,” Aguerri proposed. At present all testing is centralized in Managua.