The international airlines once again announce delays in resuming service to Managua. Tourist companies ask for changes to excessively strict government requirements.
By VOA / 100% Noticias
HAVANA TIMES – While air traffic worldwide begins showing signs of recuperation, Nicaragua continues in deadlock. Once more, the international airline companies have delayed their resumption of service to the country. Their reluctance to serve the Managua airport stems from the government’s refusal to make their biosecurity measures more flexible.
United Airlines was the first company to inform the travel companies that it will not be returning to the country until October 31st. American Airlines postponed their resumption of service until August 17, and AeroMexico has now announced a possible July resumption. Spirit Airlines has still not defined any date for resuming operations in Nicaragua.
Given these announcements, the Managua International Airport will continue functioning with only the Columbian airline company Avianca and the Panamanian company Copa Airlines. This has had a direct negative impact on tourism, a sector now in its third straight year of severe economic downturn. The tourist companies have repeatedly petitioned the Nicaraguan government to revise, modify and negotiate the measures they’ve imposed.
Leonardo Torres, president of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Micro, Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises, explained the urgency of renewing all airline operations.
“I believe there should be a better understanding between the National Civil Aeronautics Institute, the airlines, and the Nicaraguan Health Ministry,” Torres stated. The Civil Aeronautics Institute is the entity that authorizes airline companies to operate in Nicaragua.
“Since the vaccination process is now advancing, the crew should now be required only to present their certificate of vaccination. That would help loosen the security protocols and put it in line with the rest of the region. In the rest of Central America, all the airlines are now operating,” he added.
The tourist companies find it difficult to imagine any return of US-based airlines to Nicaragua under the current conditions. The Nicaraguan government continues demanding that each member of the airline’s crew present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Such a demand clashes with US laws protecting health information.
Lucy Valenti, president of Nicaragua’s National Chamber of Tourism, insists that the solution to the problem lies in the government’s hands.
“There are definitely concerns that this problem will continue. It’s a problem that the government has created, and the solution lies in the government’s own hands. [It’s up to them] whether the airlines begin operating beforehand or not. They’re the ones who have imposed a set of measures that are out of the normal, common run. The requirements they’ve established are not being demanded in other countries.”
The Nicaraguan Institute of Civil Aeronautics imposes additional demands on all the airlines. In order to authorize landing, it asks that the companies send photocopies of the passengers’ and crews’ passports, 72 hours in advance. This is yet another measure that the airlines companies don’t wish to deal with.