Bogotá’s El Dorado airport was transformed into an unexpected hotel for travelers who now have 224 beds to rest while waiting for the increasingly scarce flights to return urgently to their countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Rest areas were installed in the public areas and waiting rooms of the terminal. These spaces have 224 portable beds that are permanently disinfected so that passengers can rest while they resolve their situation,” Opain, the company that manages the airport.
To contain the expansion of COVID-21, of which there are 196 cases in the country, Colombian President Iván Duque announced on Thursday the 30-day suspension of the entry of travelers from abroad, including Colombians, a measure that will begin to apply to zero hours next Monday.
The rush to return to their countries, added to the decision of most airlines to cancel or reschedule flights, has left hundreds of foreign tourists on the ground, waiting for a miracle that will allow them to return home.
TOURISTS OF DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES
In this situation are Argentines, Chileans, Peruvians, Venezuelans, Swiss, French, people of various nationalities who wander with their backpacks on their backs waiting for solutions.
Opain also provides them, in collaboration with the airport restaurants, food and drinks.
Before entering the rest areas, scattered throughout the corridors of the airport, tourists are “checked by the Colombian Red Cross” who take their temperature and ask them about symptoms “to ensure that no passenger is at risk of contagion” .
Of the multitude of travelers, Swiss tourists will be repatriated in the coming days, along with others who are in the same situation in Lima, on charter flights of the Edelweiss company, the Swiss government reported on Saturday.
According to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, a flight from Bogotá to Lima was scheduled for this Saturday in order to repatriate 195 Peruvians and bring back dozens of Colombians in the same situation.
In El Dorado, a group of Argentine travelers was still today protesting with chants, whistles and applause that they could not travel to their country because, they say, the airline Latam failed to comply with their flights.
This was expressed by Efe Maximiliano Pérez, who described this situation as “a terrible odyssey” because the flight has been rescheduled seven times.
Pérez explained that he arrived in Bogotá on Friday from Cartagena de Indias and they confirmed his trip for this Saturday, but “today they rescheduled the flight for 48 hours later.”
In the same sense, Darío Gubino, from Buenos Aires, and Mónica Riquelme, from Comodoro Rivadavia, in the Argentine province of Chubut, who were in the Colombian Caribbean on vacation and, despite arriving in El Dorado days ago, were unable to demonstrate. travel.
Gubino said the airport is a focus of “impressive infection and we don’t know how we are going to get back to our homes.”
They claimed that Latam does not have an organized plan for its passengers, that the waiting lists are not respected and that the stay in Bogotá entails accommodation and food expenses.
“We have had to pay hotel, food and our families are concerned about us,” said the woman, according to whom a thousand people suffer from the problem in Bogotá.
Likewise, a Venezuelan family who three months ago bought plane tickets to celebrate the six years of their little son in Paris was trapped in El Dorado, but the COVID-19 shattered that illusion.
“Our flight was to Paris. We were canceled because of this virus situation,” the heartbroken mother told Efe, who clarified that they were traveling via Mexico with the Aeroméxico company.
The minor’s father explained that “until yesterday (Friday) the flight was normal and today it was canceled” and he could not change it.
He added that the airline fixed the new flight for them on May 2 and “now we are stranded in Bogotá and we do not know what to do because the border with Venezuela is closed” and they cannot return.