Four major airlines resumed service to Costa Rica’s busiest international airport in a move that coincided with the country easing entry requirements for tourists.
Air Canada made its long-awaited arrival to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) with an Airbus A330-300 from Toronto; Avianca retook routes from El Salvador and Bogotá; JetBlue now flies from Fort Lauderdale; and Delta re-launched service from its Atlanta hub.
Later this month, Alaska plans flights from Los Angeles, meaning all but one U.S. airline — Southwest — that offered flights to SJO before the pandemic will again serve the San José-area airport.
The increase in flights comes as Costa Rica opens its air borders to tourists from across the world. In addition, visitors are no longer required to have a negative coronavirus test, though travel medical insurance is necessary.
Lockdowns may impact European return
British Airways and KLM have also planned for their return to Costa Rica over the coming weeks, according to Aeris, which manages SJO. Air France resumed flights from Paris on October 31.
That news comes as many European countries — including France, England and the Netherlands — are under new partial lockdowns amid spikes in COVID-19 cases.
As part of those measures, England will ban non-essential international travel from November 5 until at least December 2, and airlines have begun canceling leisure flights. France, too, is only allowing for essential work trips or emergency family visits abroad.
As of Monday afternoon, Aeris reported “no changes” to the itineraries for Air France and British Airways.
“If [travel bans] are imposed, Costa Rica can’t do anything about it,” acknowledged Juan Belliard, Director of Operations for Aeris. “Costa Rica needs to abide by the decisions taken by foreign health authorities and support the countries that are coming.
“No country can intervene in the internal decisions taken by another.”
SJO launches ‘More Pura Vida than ever’ campaign
Airport authorities on Monday launched a campaign to drive international travel to Costa Rica.
Dubbed “More Pura Vida than ever,” the video encourages tourists to seek Costa Rica’s natural beauty and outdoor spaces when considering where to visit.
“Now is the time to complement the efforts of the Costa Rican Tourism Board and the entire sector, to motivate world travelers to visit Costa Rica in order to contribute to the quickest recovery,” said Erick Barboza, commercial director of Aeris.
Up to 300,000 people could visit Costa Rica in December, according to the Tourism Board, but that figure will almost certainly be depressed by the COVID-19 concerns and restrictions.