(QCOSTARICA) Five US airlines already have scheduled flights on their itineraries starting from August 1 to Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport (LIR), in Liberia, Guanacaste.
They are United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, Alaska and Jetblue.
César Jaramillo, manager of the terminal’s management company, Coriport, confirmed that these airlines represent 66% of the normal traffic of the airport during this time and 45% of the airlines that operated before the closing of operations on March 18, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the destinations offered by the first to return to Guanacaste are Miami, Charlotte, New York, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston.
Jaramillo explained that 16 airlines operated at the Daniel Oduber, with travel to destinations in Europe such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, United States and Canada.
The Coriport manager stressed that although the aforementioned airlines already have the destination included in their schedules, it does not mean that they are confirmed, since it will depend on the approval of the protocol and in addition to what the government resolves in relation to the origin of the travelers who will be able to enter the country, according to the situation of the pandemic in their nations.
“If the United States is not included, none will be confirmed,” Jaramillo regretted.
According to Jaramillo, one of the desirable situations would be that the entry of international tourists is enabled by destinations and not by country; that is to say, before closing the door to the United States completely, some cities are authorized where there is less spread, but that would depend on the regulations defined by the governments.
He also acknowledged that the first flights to arrive will not be full.
“Our country is very desirable, as a traditional nature destination but also in this circumstance (…) many people are looking at us as if we were a kind of refuge, people know that here the beaches are not cloth congested (…) the topic of riots is not normal,” he said.
The airport manager assured that the necessary protocol for the opening was elaborated in conjunction with the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) for the opening announced by the Government.
The established measures will be applied both on arrival and departure of passengers.
The provisions include hand washing, use of masks or other personal protective equipment, and temperature measurement of travelers.
In addition, the decrease in capacity and signage throughout the building is contemplated so that passengers remember the necessary distance between people or social bubbles, as well as information on the cough and sneeze protocol.
“We never stopped working, we remained active and working together with the government authorities and the sectors involved to establish a comprehensive protocol and action plans that would allow a safe return from our activities, always ensuring the safety of passengers and airport workers.
“We are ready to reopen the doors of this natural paradise called Guanacaste,” said Jamarillo, who added that efforts have also been made to accommodate and make the request to the airlines to avoid conglomerations in the rush hours.
August 1 was the last date given by the Ministry of Health to open air borders, which would allow foreigners to arrive at both the Liberia airport and Juan Santamaría (SJO), in Alajuela.
Alberto López, manager of the Costa Rica tourism board (ICT), reported that that institution is working on the design of other protocols focused on the safety of tourists during their stay in the country, from landing to departure.
Guanacaste has become an important pole of attraction for international tourists, who come directly to Daniel Oduber, to visit the area and leave through the same terminal.
Before the closure of borders on March 18, ordered to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the number of tourists who chose the North Pacific as a destination was around 1.5 million annually and more than 25 destinations in North America and Europe.
“Tourism is the most important activity for Guanacaste. The airport is one more cog in all the machinery of the tourism industry that employs thousands of people, and has promoted the growth of the country.
“It is for this reason that at Coriport we consider that the responsible and monitored opening of borders is one of the actions that will promote economic recovery,” added Jaramillo.
Despite the increase in cases in recent weeks and restrictions, the Ministry of Health has not changed the date of opening of airports.
Six airlines have already announced the resumption of transfers between August and October for the Juan Santamaría.