Colombia to Reopen Its Borders to International Flights Starting Sept. 21
Despite its current status as the world’s sixth-highest hot spot for coronavirus, Colombia plots to resume international travel in coming weeks.
With a population of 49 million, Colombia ranks sixth in the world for COVID-19, with 716,319 cases, as reported by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. But the South American nation will gradually restart international flights beginning Sept. 21, the Minister of Transport Angela Maria Orozco announced last Thursday, according to Reuters.
International flights have been grounded since March in response to coronavirus concerns, with borders — including those by land, sea, and river — still closed. While the exact timeline and process has yet to be announced, Orozco said in a statement, “International flights will restart with a gradual first phase which will be announced shortly,” Reuters reports.
She added that destination countries, airport capacities, and airline interest will all play a role in which flights start up. Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez had previously announced reopening 15 airports in September, according to the International Air Transport Association.
To attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, Colombia entered a nationwide lockdown with stay-at-home orders in place for more than four months, eventually easing them on Sept. 1, while a national sanitation emergency remains until at least Nov. 1.
Border closures, as well as restrictions on leisure travel within the country, have had a profound effect on the nation’s growing tourism market, especially in Bogota and Cartagena, which have seen a rise in popularity in recent years.
Despite the Sept. 21 date being announced for international flights, the land and sea borders will remain closed until at least Oct. 1, Reuters reports. Colombian news site Semana reported that the first international flight leaving Colombia will be to Miami/Fort Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines. The flight is currently bookable for Sept. 19, and the first bookable reverse route departs on Sept. 26.
The State Department currently still has a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for Colombia, issued on Aug. 6. It states, “Do not travel to Colombia due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Colombia due to crime, terrorism and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk,” advising potential travelers to read the entire advisory before proceeding.