An operation is underway to repatriate approximately 160 Chilean citizens and residents who have been unable to return to Chile due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The group of Chileans will arrive in Chile tonight thanks to joint efforts coordinated by the Chilean Embassies and Consulates in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
The operation has consisted of two phases. First, the Chileans staying in El Salvador and Honduras were taken by land to Guatemala and those in Nicaragua were taken to Costa Rica.
In a second phase, a Copa Airlines plane picked up passengers in Guatemala City and San José in Costa Rica and flew to Panama City. There another group of Chileans will join the passengers and they will all continue the journey to Santiago.
This humanitarian flight was achieved thanks to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s successful negotiations with the Panamanian airline, COPA, which agreed to carry out this operation, giving priority to the passengers with tickets for that airline. The airline also accepted endorsed Latam tickets and set special pricing for passengers with flights on other airlines.
The operation to bring Chileans stranded in Central America back to Chile tonight has involved land and sea travel, the provision of accommodation and meals and support with sanitary and migration controls for entering Guatemala and Costa Rica from neighboring countries.
This consular initiative is the result of weeks of work and coordination between all of Chile’s diplomatic missions in the region. In Honduras, the operation began at 6 am on June 1. The Honduran Navy helped a group on the island of Roatán arrive in La Ceiba before heading to San Pedro Sula, where they gathered with Chileans who had been stranded in other cities. Accompanied by staff from the Chilean consulate in Honduras, the group began the trip toward the Guatemalan border, where officials from the consulate in Guatemala City picked them up and took them to the airport to join the Chileans who were already in Guatemala.
Meanwhile, the meeting point in El Salvador was the capital. From there, the Chilean group headed toward the border with Guatemala, where a second bus took them to the La Aurora air terminal, where they boarded the first leg of the Boeing 737 flight back. Thanks to intervention by the Chilean embassies in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the Chileans in Nicaragua received authorization to travel to the San José international airport, where they were able to join the other passengers and board the plane for the second leg of the repatriation flight.
The third and final stop is Panama, where the final group will board the plane. Many of them got to the airport of Tocumén with support from the Embassy and Consulate, as they lacked the means to get there from the places where they were staying.
In terms of size and length, this is the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s second largest mass repatriation operation, after the operation that successfully brought 241 Chileans back from India and Southeast Asia.