(QCOSTARICA) At 6:59 pm Monday, Iberia flight 6317 landed at the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), the first commercial passenger flight since the air borders were closed to tourists, on March 18, due to the global alert for the coronavirus pandemic.
The flight, with 214 passengers on board, left the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez airport at 4:39 pm from Spain, arriving in San Jose a few minutes ahead of schedule.
Tourism Minister, Gustavo Segura, stated that his satisfaction with the restart of international tourism operations, which, he said, is “attached to health protocols.”
He also recalled that a “gradual opening” is being proposed, first with a limited number of flights from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada; “with the hope that it contributes optimism to the micro and small companies that depend on tourism in our country and at the same time be safe for the Costa Rican population in times of pandemic.”
For his part, Rafael Mencia, the director of Aeris (operator of the Juan Santamaría International Airport), shared a similar sentiment, adding that the arrival represents a “first step”.
“As managers of Costa Rica’s main airport, we prepared ourselves in the right way to guarantee a successful return (of flights),” he stressed.
The ICT also pointed out that for this first flight, all the protocols established for the reopening of international flights were followed.
A negative PCR test for Covid-19 was requested from all passengers, masks were used at the air terminal and they were asked for travel insurance to cover accommodation in the event of quarantine and medical expenses for acute illness. They were also asked to fill out an epidemiological form, temperature measurements were applied, and physical distance standards were applied at the terminals.
The ICT confirmed, however, that 13 of the passengers were able to board the flight without the COVID-19 test results and were tested upon arrival and an isolation order was issued for 24 hours to wait for the test results.
“They underwent swabbing upon arrival at Juan Santamaría International Airport, and they must accept a 24-hour health restriction at the first hotel in their destination, pending a negative result that allows them to continue their trip in Costa Rica.
“This is exceptional. The fact is that, this time, to the passengers who had not complied with the insurance requirement or the PCR test, due to the short time they were alerted, we will apply exceptional measures for this flight and only this one,” said the ICT.
Foreigners who wish to travel to our country must, among other requirements, undergo a PCR test up to 48 hours prior to arrival to rule out the presence of the new coronavirus in their body.
They must also purchase an insurance policy that covers medical expenses and additional lodging, in case they have to be quarantined for COVID-19, or for possible extraordinary closings of the air borders.
The international air terminals (San Jose and Liberia) have permission to operate since last Saturday, August 1. However, it is not today that the first commercial flight arrives.
The Iberia flight is scheduled for a turn around to Madrid Tuesday morning. On Thursday, the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany, is scheduled to arrive.
Meanwhile, Daniel Oduber Airport awaits permission from the Ministry of Health to receive travelers from the United States. Well, until now, only people from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union are allowed to arrive.