More than a year after suspending its operations in the country, Southwest Airlines resumed its daily flights between Costa Rica and the United States this past weekend. Being 12:51 p.m. m., a total of 145 passengers aboard flight WN 691, from the city of Houston, Texas, landed at Daniel Oduber International Airport.
This flight will be enabled from Monday to Sunday between this air terminal and the William P. Hobby Airport. In addition, starting this next Saturday, a weekly flight will be added between Guanacaste and the city of Baltimore, in the state of Maryland, the company reported. The airline adds a new option for a market that has proven to be vital for the survival of the national tourism industry.
According to figures from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, between January and April 2021, the country has registered 295,999 international arrivals. Of these, 213,828 correspond to US citizens, which is equivalent to 72.2%.
“We are grateful for a partnership with the team at the Liberia airport that allows us to easily get Southwest customers to and from the Houston Hobby airport, and points beyond the United States. With a simple airport experience that complements our approach to making air travel friendly and reliable,” said Southwest Airlines Regional Manager for International Operations, Eleonor Pimentel.
In that sense, the spokeswoman highlighted the facilities offered by the Daniel Oduber airport. There, tourists traveling to or from Costa Rica can be tested directly for Covid-19. Precisely, this terminal was one of the first in the world to be awarded with the Airport Sanitary Accreditation of the Airports Council International (ACI). These factors led to the return of the airline.
As the vaccination campaign progresses both in the North American country and in our territory, the arrival of international travelers begins to show slight signs of increase. However, the US market continues to be the main source of tourists. Of the 89,284 arrivals registered in April, a total of 66,189 (74.1%) were from that North American country.
“The return of all US airlines that flew to Costa Rica prior to the Pandemic is completed,” explained the Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura. “The United States is represented by approximately 70% of international travelers, which is why the arrival of this airline is extremely significant to add to the generation of tourism employment and linkages,” he added.
According to the latest Biweekly Tourism Monitoring of the ICT, dated May 31st, the offer of seats to Costa Rica has been increasing considerably. Although it is not equivalent to the number of international tourist arrivals, it is used to measure air capacity to a destination.
In April, the number of airline seats for the country was 190,005. That number increased to 207,732 in May. For June a number of 218,503 is estimated while for July it is 268,662. Precisely, that is the date on which the boreal summer begins. This, according to the Schedules Analyzer OAG platform. The same which is updated weekly, from the Global Distribution Systems “GDS”, of the airlines.
More airlines returning to Costa Rica
According to the report, the Dutch airline KLM maintains its return for June 29th with three flights per week. For its part, Frontier airline, as well as TUI Airways and Thompson Airways will resume operations on July 1st.
According to estimates from the Tourism Institute (ICT), a maximum of 1.6 million visitors is expected this year. Last year, the country received only 1,011,912 entries to the country’s airports. The figure is 66% less than in 2019.