The main airline of the Netherlands, KLM, suspended as of this Friday all its weekly long-stay flights, as well as all those to European destinations that require to spend the night abroad. This measure affects a total of 270 intercontinental flights, including the four weekly trips that the company was making, in recent weeks, between Amsterdam-Alajuela-Liberia.
The company made the decision after the Dutch government announced the imposition of new sanitary restrictions that include requiring passengers and crew members to show a second negative COVID-19 rapid test just before boarding the plane.
“In a conversation with the ICT, the company stated that it cannot run the risk of its crew being stranded somewhere, due to the measures imposed by its government,” said the Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura.
After two months
The decision made by the airline comes less than two months after it returned to operating in the country, with the opening of the air borders to Europe, on August 1st, 2020. KLM restored its flights to Costa Rica with two weekly trips since last November 26th, when a first flight brought 165 visitors. However, these figures could be affected when the Dutch company returns to the country.
Precisely, this Thursday, the executive director of KLM, Pieter Elbers, announced the dismissal of 5,000 workers. This as a result of the financial impact suffered by the company at the expense of COVID-19. He even advanced that in the coming weeks another 1,000 jobs would be running the same risk.
“The decrease in staff in our organization still does not take into account the new restrictions announced by the Dutch government in the last 48 hours. However, they are in line with the circumstances that we have had to deal with since the beginning of the Pandemic. However, even if they have little impact on our operations, job losses are still inevitable,” he warned. This in particular in view of possible new restrictions from other countries, beyond the Netherlands.
The difficulties experienced by international airlines have had a serious impact on the Costa Rica’s tourism industry. Last year, the sector estimated its losses at $ 3 billion. For 2021, the outlook is bleak as the current situation prevents the traditional high season from developing.
The closure of national borders and the return to confinement in several of the issuing markets combined so that the country received only 1,011,912 entries to the country’s airports, according to data from the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners. This also represents only a third of the more than 3 million people who arrived in this way during 2019.
Costa Rica would only be receiving between 25% to 30% of the total international tourists it received in 2019, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA, for its acronym in English). It would not be until 2024 when it would return to the same pre-Pandemic level.