Panama’s main airport began opening commercial flight traffic in a controlled manner on Friday, after almost five months of restrictions in which only humanitarian flights were allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tocumen International Airport, which was closed to commercial air traffic since March 22, resumes itineraries starting with nine destinations in South America, the Caribbean and the United States, the area terminal reported.
The commercial air opening is based on an executive decree that authorizes the departure of people from the national territory. It also allows the transit of passengers through the air terminal on a limited basis in terms of flight number and connections, as long as these connections do not exceed six hours between the arrival and departure flights.
The decree also admits the controlled entry of Panamanians and residents to the national territory, with prior authorization from the health authorities.
The general manager of the Tocumen International Airport, Raffoul Arab, explained “that nationals or foreigners who are in other countries and who are in the process of returning to Panama, must comply with the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health, among which there is the screening (testing) and the mandatory 14-day quarantine ”.
To date, the transit through the airport of approximately 1,000 travelers and the controlled departure of another 730 people were scheduled.
Arab stressed that all flights are scheduled in advance. “The world situation leads us to uncertainty and flights have to be scheduled with a long time and that uncertainty about the closure of cities, countries or airports is what does not allow us to make long-term operations,” he said.
The pandemic severely hit operations at Tocumen airport, one of the largest air hubs in Latin America.
With the opening of air traffic at the airport, the Panamanian company Copa Airlines also reported that they will be offering flights to Washington, New York, Mexico City, Miami, Santo Domingo, San José, Quito, Guayaquil, Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile.
As of Friday, Panama has reported 78,446 positive cases of the new coronavirus and 1,722 deaths.