Costa Rica recovered most of the air routes that were frozen due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, confirming the return of 17 international airlines that had slowed down their operations to avoid economic losses.
Despite this significant recovery, tourist traffic is lukewarm, to the point that between August and December 2020 it only registered 13% of the passengers who left the Juan Santamaría International Airport (AIJS) in that same period in 2019, according to data from Aeris, the terminal’s management company.
This traffic corresponds to 135 thousand passengers, of which the majority were registered last December, with 66,680 travelers, 26% of what was recorded in the same month of 2019. Meanwhile, traffic at the Liberia Airport that same month was close to 30,000 passengers, according to estimates from Coriport, the airport’s concession company and member of the international VINCI Airports network.
In this terminal, most of the US airlines have already resumed operations and yesterday the Dutch KLM and the Canadian WestJet confirmed their return, thus consolidating nearly 300 flights to the Liberian airport this month.
The return of flights to this terminal is gradual, so the usual traffic will also be gradual, estimated César Jaramillo, general manager of Coriport. Key to this has been the return of United States airlines, as well as the inauguration of new routes by companies such as United and JetBlue since that country generates 84% of the Daniel Oduber traffic throughout the year and almost 100% in low season. Not only in the Liberian terminal did the American routes increase, since in the AIJS United it opened trips to Denver, Colorado, and JetBlue to Los Angeles, California.
“The coordination between the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, Aeris and the airlines, together with the good tourist image of the country, has allowed Costa Rica to carry out a progressive process to recover traffic and pre-Pandemic operations levels”, stated Erick Barboza, Commercial director of Aeris.
So far, the only US airline that has not resumed its flights in the country is Southwest; Air Transat (Canada), Albatros (Venezuela), Condor (Germany), British Airways (United Kingdom), Latam (Chile), and Interjet (Mexico) are also pending to confirm their return date.