(QCOSTARICA) International air activity could normalize in October, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but before that, airlines must gradually operate until they regain their occupancy and frequencies.
In this scenario, it will be vital to reduce the cost of operation to the maximum to survive, says Antoine Cros, regional representative of the Air France-KLM group.
The executive was part of the “Tourism in Costa Rica during and after the Coronavirus” forum, organized by the Dutch-Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce, which also featured Joost Wilms, representative of Holland Hotels and María Amalia Revelo, Minister of Tourism.
These are some of the questions that Cros answered.
How have airlines dealt with the crisis?
Most have reduced costs and limited their operation to the maximum in order to survive. In the case of Air France-KLM we do not have flights, losing a billion euros per month. In such a scenario, the best thing to do is to limit losses.
When are international flights expected to return?
IATA has a rather pessimistic scenario, in which domestic flights resume from July, and international flights in October.
In the case of Air France-KLM, flights will start little by little from the middle of May, and the goal is to reach 30% of the frequencies we had before the pandemic from July.
Is it the same picture for Costa Rica?
To fly to Central America through connections, we need the resumption of Copa Airlines, if this happens, we will be able to fly to Costa Rica from Panama starting in June (direct Air France-KLM flights to Costa Rica operate in the high season, that is, October and end in March).
Meanwhile, direct flights to each country will depend on demand; If there is a significant flow to a destination, we will increase the number of seats and then the number of flights.
We will not take risks that may generate losses.
How difficult will it be for airlines to resume operations?
The return will be slow. Little by little, we will begin to recover what we had in the past, both in traffic and tourism.
Everything will depend on the confidence of passengers in mass transportation and in leaving their countries.
The biggest challenge is to generate profits while respecting the social distancing and the restrictions of the pandemic.
What measures are considered to control the pandemic once operations resume?
It is going to be very difficult for an airline to have a plane half full or one-third full, the profitability is less than 10%, so it will not be possible to respect social distancing in airplanes, other measures must be sought such as disinfection, tests, and masks.
It is even valued, like vaccines, that the passports indicate that the passenger has already passed the Covid-19.
How will post-pandemic measures impact airfares?
Although the airlines are trying to survive, the idea is not to operate a flight half full and charge half, because no airline would fly.
It is unlikely that fares will drop to implement traffic in June, however, I believe that by September there will be a kind of fare war between airlines to fill their planes and face competition in high season.
How do you see the recovery in tourism for Costa Rica?
The advantage is that Costa Rica does not have a mass tourism image like Punta Cana, for example.
The destinations that many tourists concentrate in a single area will be very affected by the problem of social distancing.