As Tocumen Airport reopens, Panama becomes the final country to open up in Central America.
Panama welcomed international arrivals for the first time since March, as President Cortizo presided over Tocumen Airport’s reopening.
Like the rest of Central America, Panama closed its borders in March. It’s only since late August where the situation has eased up enough to allow international travel to restart.
Hoy, con mucha emoción, después de 7 meses y a pesar de las circunstancias, iniciamos las operaciones internacionales en el @tocumenaero, viajando a 36 ciudades en 20 países del mundo, con todas las medidas sanitarias y de bioseguridad para cuidar de nuestros pasajeros. pic.twitter.com/4uGT982wPI
— Nito Cortizo (@NitoCortizo) October 12, 2020
Tocumen is by far the busiest airport in Central America, handling over 16.5 million passengers in 2019.
That puts it as the 9th-busiest airport in Latin America for that year.
This year, between January and August, Tocumen has handled just over 3.5 million passengers. The bulk of these came through before the pandemic.
It’ll take a while before Tocumen gets back to its regular schedule. For now, it’ll accommodate around 80 flights per day.
Seven airlines – Copa, Air France, Wingo, Iberia, United, KLM, and Spirit – will provide these initial flights to/from Panama. They will fly to 36 cities in 20 countries.
Although this marks a sharp drop on pre-COVID traffic, it’s still a lot more than any other Central American airport post-lockdown.
Momentos en que se marca un antes y después en el reinicio de las operaciones del Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen, con el bautizo y saludo al presidente de la República @NitoCortizo por parte de la aeronave 737-800 de @CopaAirlines en su suelo 127 con destino a Bolivia.🛫 pic.twitter.com/CIUc1zr5tt
— Aeropuerto Tocumen (@tocumenaero) October 12, 2020
All arrivals need to provide a negative COVID test certificate performed within 48 hours of flying.
Travelers without this certificate need to take a test at the airport upon arrival.
The airport tests take less than 30 minutes for result and cost $50. Once you receive your negative result you can pass through customs and immigration.
President Nito Cortizo was at Tocumen today to oversee the reopening. He took one of the rapid COVID tests available to arriving passengers.
— Aeropuerto Tocumen (@tocumenaero) September 24, 2020
In a tweet, Cortizo noted that 85% of the businesses that operated pre-COVID in the airport are also now open.
He went on to laud Panama as the most important connection hub in the region.
Hotels also reopened in Panama today. Ditto theaters, libraries, casinos, movie theaters, museums, and other tourist sites. Restaurants and tour operators opened in late September to boost domestic tourism.
— CentralAmericaLiving (@VidaAmerica) October 10, 2020
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.