The Ecuadorian government decided to open the airports despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Florencia Lucero Heguy
Ecuador currently has 67,870 infected with COVID-19 and already totals more than 5,000 deaths, ranking 28th in countries with the highest number of infected people. Ecuador’s National COE (Emergency Operations Committee) reactivated domestic flights in the country on June 1, thus becoming the first country in the region to fly again. The route with the highest demand in Ecuador is the Quito-Guayaquil route and resumed on June 15.
It should be noted that the airports had closed on March 16, when aeronautical activity was banned as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19.
For the reopening, biosafety measures were taken as prevention and propagation measure against COVID-19, which consist in that both passengers and crew must wear face masks throughout the flight, the crew will wear gloves and, during the journey, there should be social distancing between the crew and the travelers. To ensure safety, measures taken by airlines include deep disinfection inside the aircraft, before and at the end of each flight. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that the air filters used by each airplane capture more than 99% of the particles.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Transportation ordered that passengers on national flights must have a COVID-19 test with a negative result, made within a maximum of 72 hours before the trip and the document must be certified by the Ministry of Health. It should be noted that this can affect the process of reactivating flights, since the cost of the exams is covered by the passenger. On the other hand, in the cabins there is no social distancing, since if seats were left free, the number of passengers would drop by approximately 30%, which would be very harmful for companies.
Another change that was made under the protocol was the service on board, since the products that are delivered are packaged, with the aim of reducing the interaction between the passenger and the crew members. IATA explained that the measures seek to build confidence in governments to allow the opening of borders to air travel and also in passengers who want to fly again.
It is important to highlight that between the airports of Quito and Guayaquil more than 15 thousand direct jobs are generated, without counting the indirect ones that include tourism, business, exports, etc.
In a short time, the Covid-19 took thousands of human lives and millions of jobs around the world, and one of the markets that suffers the most is the airline industry. That is why Ecuador decided to fly again, with the aim of reactivating the economies that go hand in hand with regional aviation.