Managua’s international airport on Saturday received its first commercial flight almost six months after airlines suspended routes as a precaution during the Covid-19 pandemic, local media reported.
Colombian airline Avianca resumed “regular commercial operations in Nicaragua” on Saturday with a welcome ceremony at the air terminal, pro-government media said.
Although Nicaragua did not officially close its only international airport, airlines had suspended their operations to the country since April as a security measure due to the coronavirus.
Avianca is the first airline to resume commercial flights to Nicaragua, while other companies have tentatively scheduled the restart of operations for October. This involves a series of requirements demanded by the government, which local business associations say are “impossible” to fulfill.
The return of Avianca is valued as “a sign of confidence” toward the country, according to Channel 8 television, after emphasizing that airlines must comply with the recommendations of health authorities, including that passengers present a recent negative test for Covid-19.
The American Chamber of Commerce of Nicaragua (Amcham), which groups together local businessmen who promote ties with the United States, asked the government at the end of August to find a solution with airlines in order to reestablish the Central American nation’s connection abroad.
Authorities have not responded to this request and maintain the requirement that airlines must send — 72 hours before the flight — a list of passengers with copies of their travel documents and proof of negative coronavirus tests. Negative tests are also required for flight crew, even if they don’t leave the airport.
The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua says there are “numerous” charter flights available for repatriation.
Nicaragua, with 6.2 million inhabitants, officially registers 4,936 infections and 147 deaths from Covid-19, although the Citizen Observatory — a network of doctors and civil workers — has tallied 10,258 suspected cases and 2,721 suspicious deaths.