Puerto Rico Tourism Co.: Int’l travel recovering gradually
International travel between Puerto Rico and the main destinations in Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean are gradually making a comeback, with some already flying and others mapping out schedules through year’s end.
Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director-designate Carlos Mercado said Spanish airline Iberia is expected to re-establish its direct Madrid-San Juan route during the second quarter of the years, with between three and five weekly frequencies.
Meanwhile, German airline Condor announced last weekend that it will resume its nonstop route from Frankfurt to San Juan, with a weekly flight every Saturday starting November 2021. Condor customers can now make their reservations through the airline’s website, he said.
Another important international destination for the island is Canada. Prior to the pandemic, three airlines — Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat — operated nonstop flights in the winter season from Toronto and Montreal to Puerto Rico.
Mercado said the recovery of the Canadian market has been delayed given the strong restrictions on Canadians returning to their country and the prolonged stoppage of operations in the cruise industry.
All airlines have committed to the destination once the control measures are adjusted, he said.
Two international carriers serving Latin American destinations — Copa and Avianca — have already resumed flights to San Juan, serving Panama and Bogotá, respectively. Copa is operating four weekly flights, while Avianca covers the San Juan route three times a week.
“The recovery and strengthening of air access in Puerto Rico are part of the priorities we have outlined in the plan for the gradual reopening of the destination,” he said. “In this sense, preparing for the gradual reactivation of international flights represents a step forward.”
“Puerto Rico is a key connection between the United States and Europe with the Caribbean region, so one of the main goals of our air access division is to continue facilitating the restart of flight operations by the end of 2021, in a safe and responsible manner, and complying with the new protocols required to contain the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mercado said.
Alejandro Caicedo, director of the Tourism Co.’s Air and Maritime Access division said while the pandemic slashed air traffic to and from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport by 70% in 2020, “we’re in constant communication with our international partners with the goal of supporting their operations in Puerto Rico and recovering their seating capacity.”
The Caribbean market is also in “full recovery,” agency officials said, after important destinations such as the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands began their reopening.
Currently, service has been restored to some 15 destinations in the Caribbean, with more than seven airlines serving the region, although with a marked reduction in capacity.