Increased connectivity augurs good prospects for the season

Then, the actors of the tourism sector began to walk the path back to activity, and on this they found several stones. The biggest was the low connectivity of the country, a consequence of the decrease in the number of airlines that arrive at the airport to the frequency with which those that do arrive in Uruguay operate.

As he told Coffee & Business the Operations Manager of Aeropuertos Uruguay, Federico Cabrera: “Before the pandemic, the Carrasco airport received around 40,000 passengers per week with 150 weekly frequencies that connected 19 cities with Montevideo.” Currently the airport has a connectivity of 70%, when compared to the figures for 2019.

According to data provided by the Carrasco International Airport, the following airlines are operational: Air Europa to Madrid, Aerolineas Argentinas to Buenos Aires, Avianca to Bogotá, Azul to Porto Alegre, Copa to Panama, Gol to San Pablo, Iberia to Madrid, JetSmart to Santiago de Chile, Latam to Lima, Santiago de Chile and San Pablo, and Paranair to Asunción de Paraguay.

Asked about the reason why in these months of recovery it was not possible to reach the levels of connectivity that existed before the pandemic, Cabrera explained that worldwide work was being done to recover, first, domestic flights. This directly impacted the Uruguayan airport that works only with international flights.

But since the reopening of borders, the different actors in the sector —both public and companies— are working to improve the number of operations. “From the airport we are continuously working to recover connectivity, since it is a key industry for the country’s development, logistics and tourism,” said Cabrera.

Connectivity on the rise

As reported by the Ministry of Tourism, air connectivity will increase in the coming days.
The same was indicated from the airport, and they detailed the flights that are going to start operating in Uruguay: Aerolineas Argentinas will add five new flights, going from 19 to 24 weekly frequencies. Latam will increase its weekly frequencies from seven to nine. Gol, went from seven to ten flights per week in September, and will go to 14 weekly frequencies in October. In addition, as of October 31, American Airlines flights will resume. The airline that will connect Miami-Montevideo will have three weekly frequencies.

“We are slowly recovering connectivity, and we will continue working to reach pre-pandemic levels in the medium term. To be able to overcome them too,” said Cabrera.

For his part, the head of the Uruguayan Association of Travel Agencies (Audavi), Carlos Pera, thanked the efforts to position the Uruguayan market — which is located between two giants: Brazil, with 220 million people, and Argentina, with 44 million people—on the radar of the airlines.

Although the size of the country does not compare with that of its neighboring countries, the president of the Association said that the Uruguayan market is far from being residual. According to Pera, there is a group of 600,000 Uruguayans who travel an average of 2.8 times a year, which makes the Uruguayan market one of 1.8 million regular annual travelers.. “We are far from being a bad market, and airlines, faced with a lack of crews, prefer to put their few resources in destinations that provide them with commercial security,” Pera pointed out.

Looking ahead to the season

Audavi partners are optimistic about the summer season: “We think that between now and the end of the year, the percentage will change in favor of increasing connectivity,” said the president of the association, who estimated an increase of 10%.

In this sense, he explained that for the airline business to be profitable, the plane has to sell all the seats both when it goes to a destination and when it returns from it. For example, the manager of a terminal such as the Carrasco Airport has to carry out his actions so that his flight to another terminal is always full. Meanwhile, the manager of the other terminal will have to do the same.

So, with an increase in connectivity, the chances of even more tourists arriving in the national territory increase.

According to Pera, the main receptive tourism market is Argentina, which is why the increase in flights —21 in the week—, of Aerolineas Argentinas stands out. However, he pointed out that Argentines have certain difficulties in coming to Uruguay due to the exchange rate gap.

The panorama is very different with the second client, which is Brazil. The Uruguayan economic situation means that for Brazilians the rates are very similar and even in some cases lower than those of Brazil. That is why the national authorities —fundamentally the Ministry of Tourism— are aiming their promotional campaigns at Brazil.

From Carrasco Airport, they told Coffee & Business that after two seasons with restrictions that prevented the normal development of tourist activity, today the sector faces a situation that allows ambitious prospects to be established, thanks to greater connectivity.

“This season finds us strengthened, with a team that has proven to be up to the challenge of facing complex situations, always offering a quality experience and excellent services,” concluded Cabrera.

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