Argentina's Chamber of Airlines (JURCA) issued a statement over this weekend, warning that bringing back all travellers banned from reentering the country following a cap of 600 airborne passengers a day might take up to five months.
JURCA was very critical of the Government of President Alberto Fernández for the meaure, which also has also entailed a limit of two international daily flights arriving and departing at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza airport.
JURCA's statement released through social media demanded Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero reviewed this decision which has broght down the number of international travelers to 3% of prepandemic figures.
The Argentine Republic has been strongly affected by its connectivity with the rest of the world and we fear that this will worsen even more, JURCA said.
The cancellation of flights left thousands of Argentines stranded without a return date, leading opposition politicians to file a habeas corpus Thursday in defense of Argentines barred from returning to their homes, against the very written letter of the National Constitution.
The government's measure reportedly aims at keeping the Delta coronavirus variant at bay. Before the new restrictions, there was already a cap of 2,000 daily passengers, but instead of progressing back to normal, Argentine went the opposite way. The current restrictions are in force until July 9 and it is yet unknown whether the Government plans to extend them.
Consequently, no company can provide a certain travel solution to its customers with the aggravation that if the current maximum quota of 600 daily passengers were extended, and depending on the number of passengers that are pending return, the delay of many passengers to return to their homes could take up to 5 months,” JURCA warned.
“The airline industry requires a more predictable operating framework, as is the case even in this time of pandemic in the more than 1,500 destinations that are flown around the world today,” the statement went on.
There are reportedly 45,000 Argentine nationals unable to return to their homes. But National Migrations Director Florencia Carignano has downplayed those figures, saying that “being outside the country does not mean being stranded.
In fact, many Argentines have left the country for good due to the worsening of the economy over the past years. But due to the travel restrictions, several of them have chosen to “escape” via Asunción through private flights or even rental vans there to catch regular air services to their final destinations from the Silvio Pettirossi airport, according to reports from the Buenos Aires daily Clarín and from airport shuttles' social media accounts.
In Paraguay, Douglas Cubilla, director of airports of the National Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (Dinac), has announced that the entry of foreigners is totally free as long as sanitary protocols are followed and a negative PCR result from 72 hours before the flight is submitted.
Cubilla explained that connecting through Asunción is common practice among Argentine business people.
Also affected by these travel restrictions is the entire roster of Argentine Football First Division team River Plate, who went to the US State of Florida for some pre-season practices and friendly games and may now be required to observe a mandatory quarantine upon returning, which might make the whole team unavailable for July 14th Copa Libertadores clash with Argentinos Juniors, the team where Diego Maradona rose to fame and of which President Fernández is a well-known fan.
The current presidential emergency decree was not in force when River Plate left for the United States. Every player has been swabbed in Orlando and the results have come back negative, so they will start flying back Monday.