(QCOSTARICA) This Saturday, September 5, the Daniel Oduber International airport in Liberia (LIR), Guanacaste, came back to life with the first flight after it was closed for 170 days due to the pandemic.
At 12 noon, United Airlines flight arrived from Newark (EWR), New Jersey with 68 passengers.
The restart of operations with passenger flights is possible after the Government authorized the entry of residents from the United States from September 1.
Coriport, the company that manages the airport, reported that the flight was given the
corresponding health protocols and the entry requirements of all passengers were validated.
From September 1, Costa Rica opened its air borders to American tourists. Residents of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., (and as of September 15) Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania can now vacation in Costa Rica.
“The arrival of the first flight from the United States is a small step, but great news for a region that depends mostly on tourism (…) We are sure that we will once again attract thousands of international tourists,” said César Jaramillo, manager general of CORIPORT.
Before the border closures, the Guanacaste Airport connected 23 destinations in North America and Europe. In 2019, the airport received 599,433 passengers, an 8.5% growth compared to 2018.
United Airlines celebrates 30 years of flying to Costa Rica and what better way to celebrate it than by returning to a world-class destination; we are very proud to be able to contribute once again to the economic and tourist development of the country by linking Guanacaste with the world,” said Carlos Granados Hernández, United Airlines sales manager for Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
On August 27, representatives of the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism, municipalities and Coriport requested that the authorities accelerate the total opening to flights from the United States, to prevent the zero season from being extended in the region.
They also pointed out that destinations such as the Dominican Republic and the Mexican Caribbean, Costa Rica’s direct competitors in the US market, are already launching aggressive campaigns and a greater opening.
Slow but steady
Although the restart of international commercial flights is gradually occurring, Costa Rica is experiencing revenues with the reopening of international borders. From August 3 to 31, the Instituto Costarricense de Tourismo (ICT) – Costa Rica’s Tourism Board – recorded the arrival of approximately 2,136 tourists.
These revenues came from the Juan Santamaría International Airport, confirmed Alberto López, general manager of the ICT in an interview with EF.
The reopening began on August 3, the day Costa Rica received an Iberia flight from Madrid, Spain, with 210 passengers aboard a total of 288 seats— at the Juan Santamaría International Airport. Lufthansa followed up with its first flight back to Costa Rica days later.
In August, Lufthansa and Iberia made two weekly flights each with an average occupancy of 40%, said Erick Barboza, commercial director of Aeris Holding Costa Rica.
But while the Juan Santamaría International Airport witnessed the presence of tourists in its corridors, the Daniel Oduber in Liberia was desolate.