(QCOSTARICA) American Airlines applied to Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation to resume commercial and repatriation flights between Costa Rica and the United States.
The U.S. airline proposed to resume repatriation flights from Thursday, August 20, and to operate regular scheduled flights as of Wednesday, September 9.
This was confirmed by the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC), which also clarified that for now, JetBlue has not applied for flight permits, this in reference to the Aeris website, the San Jose airport operator, noting that JetBlue would begin operations as of September 1 to New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
“Currently, JetBlue has not requested a restart of operations in September. What is displayed on the Aeris website is an issue pending to be updated, due to the fact that they have recently entered notes from the company rejecting the start of operations,” clarified Álvaro Salas, director of Civil Aviation.
The director stressed that the American proposal is currently under review, “But everything is subject to the decisions of other government authorities on an eventual opening to receive flights from the United States”.
American Airlines’ forecast comes ten days after the Costa Rican government decided to open the door to commercial flights from Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom, but not from the United States.
Since August 1, the only four flights authorized per week to the country are two from Madrid, Spain (Iberia) and two from Frankfurt, Germany (Lufthansa).
Last Thursday, August 7, the United States Department of State published a global travel alert in which it advises U.S. citizens against travel to 20 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Costa Rica.
“Travelers to Costa Rica may experience border closures, airport closures, travel bans, stay-at-home requests, business closures, and other emergency conditions within Costa Rica due to COVID-19,” warns the US government
At the moment, the entry of visitors to the country is regulated by rigorous protocols. In fact, the Juan Santamaría airport (SJO) must comply with the following rules:
- Use of masks or face shields during the entire stay at the airport and its terminals.
- Placement of disinfectant carpets at the entrance to the terminal.
- Enabling stations for handwashing on international departures.
- Placement of sanitizing stations in all common areas of the airport.
- Increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high traffic areas (service counters, door handles, armrests, handrails, water fountains, elevators, etc.).
- A special protocol for cleaning and disinfection of areas for the care of suspected cases of COVID-19.
- Constant cleaning and disinfection of luggage trays and trolleys in the terminals, payment stations in parking lots, internal buses, self-check-in kiosks, bathrooms, and baby changing tables.
For their part, visitors must also meet a series of requirements to enter the airport:
- Have a PCR test and a negative result 48 hours before the trip.
- Purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses for acute illness. Travel insurance from a foreign insurer are now permitted. Travelers have the option to purchase in Costa Rica a policy from the State insurer, INS.
- Airlines must inform passengers, with their final destination in Costa Rica and prior to arrival in the country, that they must complete the online form known as the Health Pass, as well as the mandatory use of masks during their passage through the terminal.
- Body temperature measurements will be performed on all passengers and they will have to go through disinfectant mats.
- Once the immigration process is finished, signage is available to distance travel bubbles around the baggage carousels until continuing with the Customs and State Phytosanitary Service processes.
Finally, when leaving the country, visitors must also comply with a series of measures to pass through the Juan Santamaría airport:
- Airlines should facilitate online checking to streamline processes.
- Arrival time at the airport at least 3 hours before departure or 4 hours for long-duration flights.
- Disposition of sinks for hand washing before entering the terminal.
- Only passengers will be able to enter the terminal.
- The use of masks is mandatory.
- Temperature measurements, with thermal cameras, will be carried out on the access bridges to the lobby.
- Upon entering the international terminal, sanitizing stations and disinfectant mats will be available.
- Once the passenger enters the departures hall, they will go through the airline check-in process at self-check-in kiosks or at the passenger service counters. If the passenger completed their process online (and does not have checked luggage), they will go directly to the Migration process.
- Preventive signage will be present on the passenger’s route to immigration and the security filters.
- In boarding gates the use of seats will be limited; in case of travel bubbles, they will be able to use all of the seats.
- The airline will establish procedures to organize the boarding process in small groups (10 passengers), beginning with the passengers in the back of the plane. Passengers waiting to board must do so seated in the boarding lounge.
Measures in shops and restaurants within the airport
- Product tastings or delivery of courtesy samples in establishments will not be allowed.
- The row areas will be demarcated with distances of 1.8 m between each person.
- The use of contactless cards will be promoted to make the corresponding payments.
- Common areas must be at 50% of their capacity, respecting the distance.