After 137 days of airports being closed to foreigners, the first commercial flight came to Costa Rica, bringing hope with it. It reunited loved ones and paved the way for tourism related workers to get out of the economic crisis they’ve been in.
The Iberia flight came from Madrid, Spain. It landed at the Juan Santamaria Airport on Monday. 210 passengers arrived, many of them were waiting to see relatives they had been separated from due to covid-19. One woman recounted that she hadn’t been able to be with her husband and daughter for six months, something unimaginable for any mother. The global pandemic separated them by force. She recalls having a “very bad time” and stated, “We will never be apart again.”
The aircraft brought a sense of relief for those who’ve been for months with little to no income. Many of those who lost jobs were heads of households with no other working members, such as a single mother with three teenage children studying. Many of them went through any savings they had and still were not approved for financial aid. Some companies were able to provide food to their workers. A select few, such as Aeris, were able to provide financial help in the time of struggle as well.
Foreigners are required to submit test results from within the last 48 hours to prove they are not carrying covid-19. Those who didn’t have this proof were required to be tested in the airport and quarantined in their hotel rooms for 24 hours while waiting for the results.
While this flight is just 1% of the pre-pandemic air traffic, an industry that contributed 10% of the GDP, it is a start and a ray of hope. The airport is prepared for a successful reopen and committed to being safe for staff and visitors by having alcohol gel dispensers as well as signs to remind passengers to keep a distance of 1.8 meters between each other or each social bubble.