Colombia to extend international air travel ban until August 31

El Dorado airport in Bogota (Image: Wikipedia)

Colombia plans to extend its international air travel ban until the end of the current health emergency on August 31, the country’s transport minister said Wednesday.

Transport Minister Angela Maria Orozco made the announcement days after President Ivan Duque discarded reopening the country’s international airports “on the short term.”

Colombia discards international flights ‘in the short term’ amid doubts about restarting economy

Whether international air travel will be reestablished after that date depends on whether the government lifts the health emergency in place to deal with the coronavirus, the minister told Blu Radio.

The restriction on international air transport goes hand in hand with the health emergency, i.e. until 31 August. Until that date, international flights are not expected to be resumed.

Transport Minister Angela Maria Orozco

Colombia’s government suspended all commercial air travel on March 23, two days before the country entered a lockdown.

Since then, only cargo flights and humanitarian flights to repatriate foreigners and nationals have been allowed.

Internal flights might resume in July, said Orzoco, whose government has been trying to reactivate the economy while trying to avoid a sudden surge in coronavirus infections that could collapse the country’s fragile healthcare system.

The success of this effort will determine whether Duque will be able to lift the national emergency or will be forced to extend it.

So far, relaxations of economic activity have accelerated confirmed coronavirus cases increasingly adding pressure to the healthcare system.

The pandemic and its economic consequences forced the country’s largest airliner, Avianca, to file for bankruptcy in the US.

Colombia’s Avianca goes bankrupt

The transport minister is considerably more optimistic about the resumption of international air travel than the World Travel Organization (WTO).

Almost three quarters of the WTO’s expert panel do not expect the recovery of international air travel until after October. Almost 40% of the experts believe the recovery of international air travel won’t start until next year.

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