ProColombia: Generating confidence is key and a great challenge post-COVID for the aeronautics industry
Airlines operating in South American markets exchanged on their major challenges that this sector will have to face when international flights reopen in the region.
One of the major debates surrounding the economic recovery is the resume of international air connectivity. For several months now, airlines, Colombian airports, the International Air Transport Association – IATA -, the World Health Organisation, national aviation authorities and the national government have been working together to ensure that air transport respects strict biosecurity protocols and guarantees the safety of passengers throughout their journey.
To date, 3 Colombian airlines – Avianca, VivaAir and Wingo – and 5 of the country’s airports – Santa Marta, Cúcuta, Bucaramanga, Bogotá and Cartagena – have the Biosecurity stamp, certified and issued by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) and the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC).
During the Colombian Virtual Week organised by ProColombia in Argentina, Chile and Peru, this was one of the main topics discussed by the airlines covering South America.
“The Colombian government has taken several important decisions to facilitate the reactivation. Among them, the reduction of VAT on airline tickets from 19% to 5%, and the reduction of tax on aviation fuel. “Generating confidence among travellers will be key to reactivate demand,” said Gilberto Salcedo, vice-president of tourism at ProColombia.
For his part, Santiago Álvarez de LATAM, added: “We have reduced fares so that passengers can benefit from them, and when we made this decision thinking about tourism but also about investment, bringing families together and business travel. This is why we need to work closely with destinations, with operators and with governments so that the traveller can be sure of travelling in complete safety”.
Juan Manuel Perez of Avianca stated that “Airlines are the backbone of the economy and for this reason they must open the doors of countries in complete safety. We must remove the uncertainty of international connectivity and continue to coordinate with all the players in the supply chain so that we are ready to reconnect the dreams of all our travellers”.
In addition, they noted that more than 300 humanitarian flights have been made from Colombia to various countries to repatriate people, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aviation (Aerocivil).
Lisa Mota-Pinto of VivaAir added: “For us, it is important to follow the protocols, to take care of the passengers and our staff because we want to give them confidence. Like all my colleagues, we follow the necessary measures. Our aircraft are equipped with special filters that change the air every three minutes and capture 99% of particles and micro-organisms. This makes them the safest and cleanest aircraft in the world.
Pedro Asenjo of JETSMART said they carried 190,000 passengers during the containment period in a safe and secure manner and : “An academic article from MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – confirms that the probability of being infected inside an aircraft is 1 in 4,300”.
This was also confirmed by research by Mr. Carlos Alvarez, a medical infectiologist and advisor to the Colombian Ministry of Health in a recent statement explaining that aircraft have very powerful biosecurity programmes.
Diego Bermudez, from the Panamanian airline COPA, for his part, confirmed the re-establishment of the network of its routes and launched a special appeal for flights to Colombia from different countries to continue to be sold: “Our fares are very flexible and the different Colombian regions have made a great effort to show their attractiveness; after this global crisis, the aeronautical industry will undoubtedly emerge, strengthened and the work between all the players in the sector will be better articulated”.
Finally, Werner Geissbuhler of the SKY company, which already flies to Colombia from Santiago de Chile with three weekly schedules and which will resume operations on November 30, declared: “For several months we decided to block the middle row in our planes to give confidence to the travellers, and soon we began to see a greater flow of passengers. It won’t be easy to break the fear, but we’re still trying to get this engine, which is essential for the economy, up and running again very soon”.
The participants unanimously concluded that “Generating confidence among travellers will be essential to reactivate the industry, that all the actors in the chain are involved and that this will only be possible through coordination between the different authorities and provided that the biosecurity measures adopted continue to be communicated and respected”.
Management of ProColombia for the aeronautical sector
Since March 2020 and within a concept of sustainability and safety, ProColombia has been developing four actions for the revival of the tourism sector, including one specifically for air connectivity:
ProColombia is working on a process of recovering seats and schedules, hand in hand, with the airlines in order to ensure their return in a coordinated manner, to evaluate their future promotion plans and to support them as they reactivate and reopen.
The objective, from the resumption of operations in September, “will be to recover 40% of the normal weekly capacity of February, i.e. 456 frequencies and 76,237 seats from international flights per week by the end of 2020”.
To date, 16 airports have already been validated by l’Aérocivil for their compliance with the biosecurity protocols issued by Resolution 1054 of 2020 of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
Since 24 August, Colombia has had 4 domestic routes in operation and Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport will begin 15 pilot tests from September.
Source : ProColombia
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