Panama will extend the suspension of international flights by 30 more days until August

Editorial Dept. Voz de la Diaspora

Panama will extend for one more month the suspension of international flights amid the coronavirus emergency, which will take effect from 22 of July, according to a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority, AAC.

The Central American country decided to extend the suspension of international flights "for reasons of public health" with the goal of slowing down the advance of the virus that has accelerated in recent weeks.. Until Friday caused the death of 1,038 people, and a total of 51,408 contagions.

The measure exempts humanitarian flights and cargo and product transport flights, hospital medical equipment, medicines, and other necessary public health supplies to face the pandemic, according to the AAC.

Panama suspended international flights, and the domestic ones since the end of March, a few days after the first case of contagion by coronavirus was reported in the country.

The canal nation, that registers the largest number of infections in the region, For several weeks, it has been facing an escalation of cases that coincides with the reopening of some sectors of the economy., what has put the hospital system on the brink of collapse.

Panama is one of the "hub" for the most important connections on the continent given its strategic geographical position.

During the pandemic, although the Tocumen International Airport, the main air terminal, has reduced operations remains open as a destination and departure of humanitarian flights.

The Tocumen also operates the “Hub of the Americas” of the Panamanian Copa Airlines, which, like all airlines in the world, has been impacted by the health emergency, forcing it to suspend operations almost entirely..

Experts say

According to the Regional Vice President for the Americas of the International Air Transport Association (IATA for its acronym in English), Peter Cerdá given the importance of Panama as a “hub” it is vital that he approve the reopening of air transport in the country.

Cerdá said the country is ready to open up to the world, since it has one of the most important hubs in the region at Tocumen International Airport, where it has established biosecurity protocols following recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

At the same time, the airlines have implemented a comprehensive biosecurity system, with the aim of minimizing the risk of contagion on the ground and in the air to demonstrate that air transport continues to be the safest form of transport, argued the expert.

Cíbá recognized the role that Tocumen International Airport has played during the pandemic, since despite being closed to commercial flights, has not stopped serving as a connection point on humanitarian flights, which has allowed the implementation of biosafety protocols.

The general manager of Tocumen, Raffoul Arab |, noted that the air terminal is ready to start operations once the restrictions are lifted, after highlighting that the great challenge for the air terminal is to maintain its quality as "a secure connection center ...".

An Oxford Economics study found that air transport contributed, before the pandemic directly and indirectly, some $8,500 millions to the Panamanian economy, an equivalent to 14% of the Gross Domestic Product (Schedule) from the country, and generated some 238,000 jobs.