Monday 17 May 2021

The highest category of air safety promotes renovation plans in national flag airlines

Costa Rica regained status in February. Fleet changes and new routes are in the offing in the second semester.

QCOSTARICA – Regaining the highest category of air safety on February 11 is good news for Costa Rica’s flag airlines, such as Avianca Costa Rica and Volaris, which renewed their plans thanks to the possibilities offered by complying with the regulations of the Aviation Organization Civil International (ICAO) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Liberia international airport (LIR) in Guanacaste

In the case of Avianca (Colombian airline), the FAA category 1 will allow them to increase Costa Rica’s connectivity with the United States, said David Alemán, Avianca’s general director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

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The opening of new routes by Avianca will depend on the increase in demand, an aspect that the company constantly evaluates in all the markets where it operates.

“Regarding new routes, for now, we plan to start operations on the San Salvador-Ontario (California) route for July 2021, as well as some routes within Colombia,” Aleman added.

Avianca was not affected by the downgrade in Costa Rica almost two years ago, thanks to the connections it maintains from the country to its hub in El Salvador.

Meanwhile, Volaris remains cautious with the opening of new routes and the expansion of frequencies, since as long as demand does not grow, it would be a risky move, explained Ronny Rodríguez, director of Institutional Relations at Volaris for Central America.

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What he did advance is the arrival of a new aircraft – an Airbus A320neo with capacity for 188 passengers, which consumes 15% less fuel and means an operating cost up to 8% lower – in the second semester, and a renewal of the fleet that allows the requalification of national air security.

“Changing the fleet means a significant investment, so this renewal also depends on the behavior of demand,” said Rodríguez.

The requalification of Costa Rica means more confidence for airlines that use the country as a port of origin to the United States, but it also facilitates the attraction of new air operators.

“This requalification says that Costa Rica has the personnel, regulations and training to monitor and certify all airlines that operate here. It is also an image issue because complying with all international standards is a favorable and advantageous condition compared to other destinations,” explained Álvaro Vargas, Director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation.

The highest category of aviation security does not have a validity period and is subject to audits carried out by the governing body.

Costa Rica had suffered a downgrade on May 13, 2019, due to the delay in complying with a series of technical amendments recommended by ICAO.

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