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Santiago airport projects passenger traffic to drop from 24.6 million to 9 million by 2020

NEWS GENERAL | 09/08/2020 Confinement measures, border closures, and mandatory quarantine for those entering the country, in a context of economic crisis, have resulted in air traffic being at a minimum

While in 2019 the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport (AMB), the largest in the country, broke the record of 24.6 million passengers during the year, the panorama left by the pandemic of 2020 reflects an important contrast. Confinement measures, border closures, and mandatory quarantine for those entering the country, in a context of economic crisis, have resulted in air traffic being at a minimum.

In fact, according to Nuevo Pudahuel, the concessionaire in charge of the AMB, the projection for this year points to only nine million users. But in view of the reactivation of some areas of the country, air traffic is also waiting for the return of operations. Recovery What is needed to achieve this? Authorities and experts agree that health measures and the reopening of the Borders, closed since March 18, are key to start recovering the numbers: according to the last report of the Civil Aviation Board, correspondent to June, during that month traffic fell 93% compared to the same period in 2019.

In estimates, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects that in four years or more the world will see figures similar to those of last year, Branko Karlezi, communications manager of Nuevo Pudahuel, anticipates that the return "will depend in large part on how the health authorities implement new measures to safely open the borders.

There are countries where 72-hour PCR tests or the possibility of testing through saliva tests are required, but mandatory quarantine is a measure that permanently limits the activation of tourism. He adds that they have proposed that, if possible and authorized by the health authorities, "a combination of these measures could be offered" to protect everyone's health, "but at the same time reactivate tourism and the jobs it brings: American Airlines and KLM have reactivated some of their international routes, in addition to those already reopened by Latam.

However, the Sub secretary of Public Works, Cristóbal Leturia, says that "as long as the measures of the health authority, such as confinement, continue, we will see a reduction of this magnitude in air traffic". Safety Within the sanitary measures applied are the sanitization of the aircrafts, the use of elements such as masks and gloves by the crew, distance decals on the floor, copper surfaces at check-in, and a camera that measures the temperature of the passengers. "In addition, people cannot enter the terminal with company, and there is a check of the sanitary passport and others," adds Leturia.

According to Paola Tapia, former Minister of Transport, and member of the Infrastructure Policy Council, "air transport is essential, and it is necessary to gradually reactivate it (...). Airport facilitation, today more than ever, must be in tune to allow entry and exit procedures to be as quick as possible. And that implies the use of technology.

Source: El Mercurio.

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