Colombia has banned both inbound and outbound international flights for at least the next four months, following Argentina’s example.
“Until August 31 we do not expect to resume international air travel or to reopen land borders,” said Angela Maria Orozco, Colombia’s Transport Minister, in an interview with Blu Radio.
The South American nation first put a stop to commercial flying on 23 March, days before the country went into a strict lockdown. While international flights will remain grounded until the state of emergency is lifted in September, the government has plans to ease restrictions on domestic services earlier.
“We are reviewing how the pandemic evolves, and decisions will be made depending on that,” Minister Orozco said.
Many Latin American countries have imposed particularly onerous travel restrictions. Last week, the International Air Transport Association’s vice president for the Americas, Peter Cerda, said that these will likely lead to the region’s aviation industry bouncing back “more slowly” than the global standard.
“If the grounding continues beyond June, we are going to see many airlines financially unable to restart their operations,” said Cerda.
The government’s decision to extend the ban certainly comes as a blow to the country’s flag carrier, Avianca, which filed for bankruptcy in a New York court earlier this month.
It is unclear as yet how the extended ban will impact on Avianca’s ability to restructure, or whether it will dissuade prospective buyers. However, Avianca did say in a statement that the government had not yet notified it about the plan.