By Jose Antonio Payet
Argentina Raises International Passenger Entry Limits, Yet to Announce New Figures
As of July 9, Argentina will be adjusting the number of allowed passenger arrivals up from the 600 allowed today. The new figure will come into effect after July 9, though no figures as to how many arrivals will be permitted have been released. The decision to increase the number of arrivals might be correlated with a meeting held by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with government authorities on July 6.
The capacity cap, limiting daily passenger arrivals to 600, was handed down by the government as a measure to limit the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant in the country. This measure has left thousands of Argentine nationals and residents unable to return home with very little notice and a number who need to travel unable to go abroad or even having to travel to neighboring countries to catch a flight.
Though many countries around the world continue to have entry restrictions for non-residents, it is very unusual for a nation to prohibit the entry of citizens and permanent residents returning home.
IATA estimates that there are 45,000 stranded Argentines around the world, with around 1,400 people unable to return home each day due to the capacity limitations. With the current capacity limitations, Argentina is able to receive between two and three international arrivals each day, as reported by local periodical La Nación.
IATA Vice President for the Americas Peter Cerda criticized Argentina’s lack of transparency in the management of air travel and border policies during the pandemic. It’s been common for authorities in the country not to authorize flights until the last minute, bringing operational complications to airlines and passengers, who would not know whether they would travel until hours before their flight.
Aviacionline reported that Argentina’s government officials had a meeting with IATA representatives on Tuesday — which local news outlets reported on as “unmemorable” and relatively unproductive — as government authorities were unwilling to engage in discussions with the trade association and instead continued to repeat talking points, maintaining that the government’s priority was to take care of Argentinians.
After the meeting, National Civil Aviation Administration president Paola Tamburelli said, “IATA represents the interests of airlines. They suggest that we should reduce flight restrictions into Argentina. We explained that this is contrary to our interest to take care of the lives and health of Argentineans.”
Tensions between airlines and governmental authorities have not been uncommon during the last year and a half. Alberto Fernandez’s government has been sluggish at reopening various aspects of the economy, including air travel, by limiting sector recovery.
For this reason, the relationship between IATA and Fernandez government has not been very fruitful. Back in October 2020, the agency criticized the government for implementing a 35% tax on international travel, alleging the government was violating the Chicago convention and adding more difficulties to an extremely tough road to recovery for airlines and the rest of the travel industry.
While a few more passengers will be able to enter the country as of Friday, airlines and passengers are still looking for security and clarity for travel.