By Arturo Higueras
Avianca Suspends International Flights
The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the end of the pandemic is still further away than we once expected. While vaccination progresses in more than 100 countries all around the world, there are still many restrictions and border closures due to the appearance of new virus variants.
With passenger demand very slowly recovering, many airlines are very cautious before returning their offer to “normality”. One of those airlines is the Colombian national carrier Avianca. On Tuesday, it announced the cancellation of more than 20 international flights from and to Colombia starting March 1st.
In January, the Colombian carrier announced the increase of its number of routes by 77% and its frequencies by 124% compared to October 2020. However, the evolution of the COVID-19 crisis has forced the airline to change its plans. From March 1, the carrier is cancelling more than 20 routes on internationals destinations served from Bogotá El Dorado, Cali Alfonso Bonilla and Medellín José María Córdova airports.
These measures will last until April 1, but there will be routes that may take longer to be operated again. However, destinations as Orlando International, United States and Curaçao International are expected to return by that time. The passengers affected by these cancellations have the opportunity to change their route and date without any additional fee. The list of the cancelled destinations is:
– From Bogotá: Barcelona (Spain), London (UK), Curaçao, San Juan (Puerto Rico), La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Asunción (Paraguay), Montevideo (Uruguay), Fort Lauderdale y Orlando (USA) and Panamá.
– From Cali and Medellín: Madrid (Spain).
– Central America routes: San Salvador-New York Newark, USA (is already suspended since February), San Salvador-Dallas (USA), San Salvador-Toronto (Canada) y Panamá-San José (Costa Rica), among others.
On the other hand, Avianca has also announced the inauguration of several new routes. Connections inside Colombia include Pereira Matecaña to both Cartagena Rafael Núñez and Santa Marta Simon Bolívar, and one international route will launch between San Salvador International and Ontario International, USA. This last route will be operated with three weekly frequencies and an Airbus A319 with the objective of incrementing the connection between Central America and the West Coast of the United States.
For the remaining international flights that it hasn’t suspended, Avianca has confirmed the implementation of a test scheme in collaboration with SynLab Colombia. These new tests will allow international passengers purchasing the L and XXL option to perform a PCR test prior to departure and receive the results within the next 24-36 hours. For the remaining passengers, the option is still available with an extra fee.
Emilio Chacón, Avianca’s Vice President, confirmed this new scheme: “We want to make our customers’ travel plans much easier. We seek strategic alliances that allow us to create an ecosystem of benefits, advantages and discounts to improve your travel experience. From now on, our travelers can have included or with discounts important reliable PCR or antigen tests thanks to the new alliance with the renowned laboratory SynLAb Colombia. We will undoubtedly continue to look for improvements to offer the best service according to the needs of the new traveler.”