The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) expects to reestablish commercial air links with Chile early next July, and with Brazil in November in time for the tourist high season, plus the humanitarian flights for the Argentine next of kin of the combatants buried at the Argentine military cemetery in Darwin.
The news was published by visiting Argentine reporter Hugo Alconada Mon who is in the Islands reporting for the daily La Nacion, on the 40th anniversary of the April 2nd Argentine military landing and occupation of the Falklands.
The first step is to finish with the quarantine on 4 May, then begins a long three month process to resume the LATAM flights, since all the necessary permits must be requested and complied. And we're targeting July, MLA Mark Pollard told Alconada Mon. Flights to and from Punta Arenas with final destination in Santiago
This would be the first step with LATAM, before advancing to make effective the weekly link with Brazil, with a stopover at Cordoba, Argentina, an itinerary which was inaugurated in November 2019. We don't have a tentative date yet, but most probably it will be in November on time for the tourism season.
Two years ago because of the pandemic the Falklands closed its borders both for commercial flights and cruise vessels. Since then the only access to and from the Islands has been through RAF Brize Norton, close to Oxford with a fueling stop in Dakar, Senegal.
However MLA Pollard admitted that one of the pending issues, besides the necessary permits are the sanitary conditions demanded to those arriving in the Falklands.
We're not sure what we are going to do because of the different vaccination schemes, ideally we would like everybody arriving to be vaccinated
Meanwhile the Falklands Chamber of Commerce is waiting for the regular commercial air links with Chile and Brazil. Aircrafts should be landing in two, three months time, and certainly they will be for the tourism high season, pointed out the Chamber's president, Mike Summers to Alconada Mon.
Actually last February, LATAM requested the permits from Brazilian authorities but the service was left pending. Latam even had worked out a timetable for the weekly flight MPA/Falklands/Sao Paulo.
Summers said that the main challenges for the Falklands now were economic and commercial because of the increase in export costs and the shortage of manpower in the Islands, but brushed aside that any of the initiatives sponsored by the Argentine government could have any effect on the local authorities decisions.
There is no future for the policies followed by the Argentine government referred to the Islands. They have no effect on domestic affairs in the Islands, explained Summers who added that there are not much differences between what the dictator Galtieri did in 1982, and what the current government is doing now. It is targeting us to hide domestic problems. There is no future for such a dynamics.
MLA Pollard also mentioned that there is much to talk with the Argentine government, but it is not possible while they don't recognize us Islanders as a people and recognize our local government.
How long must a population have to live in a certain place before it is recognized as a 'people'? We are not 'implanted' by the English, we are multicultural. My grandparents came from Uruguay, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and here in the Islands, where my ancestor arrived in 1849. My children are seventh generation in the Falklands.
MLA Pollard also confirmed to Alconada Mon that 'humanitarian' flights will continue, they were approved in the past and will always be. They are important for the families of those buried at the Argentine military cemetery at Darwin, so they can honor and mourn their beloved, and we will do our best so that they can fly as soon as possible.
But MLA Pollard also recalled that the Argentine government did not authorize in the past compassionate flights across the Argentine air space.
The last event was 19 March when it was all ready for Chileans, Peruvians and other nationalities from South America who had expired documents or could not afford a flight through London, but Argentina said the flight could be done by Aerolineas Argentinas, and we replied through the British government, because Argentina does not recognize us, that we only needed permission to overfly Argentine air space, but they did not extend the permission.
MLA Pollard said this is not the first time this happens, it's disappointing. We're talking of South American anxious to meet their families after two years of pandemic, but I repeat this is not the first time. At the start of the pandemic Peruvian seamen were stranded in the Falklands, and we had to rent charter to fly them back to Peru through Spain.