Colombia: El Dorado airport will be different from how we knew it until a few months ago.

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Bogota’s El Dorado airport is the most important air terminal in the country and one of the main ones in Latin America. Last year it connected more than 35 million people in 41 national and 45 international destinations. However, the covid-19 pandemic caused it to cease operations for five months.

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Andrés Ortega, general manager of Opain, the operating company of El Dorado, explained to the newspaper La República the challenges faced by the air industry and the biosecurity protocols implemented at the airport.

In this first week of the reopening of El Dorado, how many passengers have moved through the airport and in how many flights?

In this first week of the return of domestic flights, we have had a very positive balance of the air operation in terms of management and experience of departure and arrival of passengers. For the first four days, an average movement of 80 daily flights was registered with about 7,000 passengers per day. The passengers, on their part, have adequately complied with the regulations and have emphasized that their experiences have been safe, comfortable and agile.

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What percentage do routes and frequencies represent compared to the precovid?

Before the covid-19, El Dorado mobilized close to 100,000 people per day, these days less than 10,000 passengers have been mobilized per day, which means that we have had an occupation of less than 10% of the capacity. The airport, however, is prepared to operate smoothly at its normal levels.

For which year do you consider that there will be a return to normal passenger traffic at El Dorado?

After the pandemic, El Dorado International Airport will be different from how we knew it until a few months ago. The pace of life has changed and we must all adjust to the new rules of social distancing, self-care and disinfection. According to the forecasts of several expert organizations on the subject, the figures for 2019 will only be seen again in two or three years. It is estimated that the recovery of the GDP will take place in two years, the same will happen in the air sector. The recovery will be slow, the domestic markets will be the first to have better results.

With the closing for five months, how many passengers stopped moving through El Dorado?

During this difficult period, we estimate that at least 14 million passengers have stopped flying. During these 5 months, El Dorado had restricted operation, for this reason, humanitarian and cargo flights kept the terminal active, making it the main hub for the supply of essential supplies, medical equipment, ventilators and humanitarian aid, indispensable at a crucial time.

How much does it cost the airport for cleaning protocols?

So far, El Dorado airport has invested close to $10 billion in the adaptation of infrastructure, processes and inputs necessary to adapt its operation to the required biosecurity protocols.

How many business premises does the airport have and how many will be put back into operation?

El Dorado has more than 300 commercial premises. In the area where the operation is being activated, there are 92 premises, of which 43 are already open.

By the end of 2020, how many passengers will move through El Dorado?

It is difficult to establish a number since this depends on several factors, such as the decision of the authorities to operate more routes and frequencies, the definition of opening of international flights, the supply of airlines and the demand of passengers.

What do you think will be the biggest changes in the industry?

We are committed to change and evolution. We want to be a reference and provide peace of mind to our passengers and our entire airport community.

By José González Bell – La República