Argentina bans all commercial flights until September in response to coronavirus pandemic

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Aerial view of Buenos Aires’s International airport Jorge Newbery with grounded planes on April 14, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Argentina has proposed to ban all internal and international flights through to September 1 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Alberto Fernandez’s administration said on Monday that it plans to suspend the sale of tickets for all commercial flights to and from Argentina over the next four months, warning those that ignore the rules will be fined.

Only flights carrying cargo and those involved in the repatriation of citizens will be allowed to operate, the government said.

The decree, signed by Argentina’s National Civil Aviation Administration, is thought to be one of the most stringent Covid-19 travel bans in the world.

Industry groups have criticized the proposal, warning such a move is likely to endanger the jobs of thousands of people.

To date, Argentina has recorded more than 4,000 Covid-19 infections, with 197 deaths nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

‘Deep concern’

The South American country has been under national lockdown since March 20 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. It has also closed its borders to its regional neighbors.

Some countries in South America, including Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, have moved to temporarily suspend commercial flights, according to Reuters, but Argentina’s ban is by far the toughest travel ban of the region.

It has prompted industry groups including the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), which lobbies on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean airlines, to warn of the “imminent and substantial risks” of such a move.

The group argued the resolution was “putting thousands of jobs at risk,” with the country’s connectivity with the world now “under threat.”

“We understand the complex situation that the government is faced with and that its number one priority is to guarantee the health and safety of the population. However, we see it as our responsibility to express the industry’s deep concern regarding this resolution, especially since no consultation took place,” ALTA said in a statement.

“Many companies in the sector will not be able to survive if this resolution is implemented as planned. Therefore, we reiterate our call for a timely dialogue with the relevant authorities in order to ensure the survival of the sector, in support of the country’s overall socio-economic wellbeing,” they added.