Peru reopened domestic air travel on Wednesday in a bid to reignite the economy as it announced a drop of 33 percent in GDP for May year-on-year.
Long queues of passengers formed from dawn at the Jorge Chavez airport in the capital Lima with 17 domestic flights operating during the day. “We’re opening together the Peruvian sky with our first flight from Lima to Cusco,” Latin America’s biggest airline Latam said on Twitter.
Air travel had been suspended for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu, the ruins of an Inca citadel that is Peru’s most visited tourist site. Authorities are hoping to re-open Machu Picchu, with a restricted number of visitors, on July 24.
The move comes with Peru revealing its economy shrank by 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
GDP slumped almost 33 percent in May compared to the same month in 2019, although that was a slight improvement on April’s year-on-year figure of more than 40 percent, the national statistics institute said. An analyst at the World Bank recently predicted that South American Andean countries, including Peru, could experience an economic depression as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first flight of the day, from Lima to the Amazonian city of Iquitos, left after an hour’s delay.
Cross-country bus travel was also restarted.
All airplane and bus passengers must wear face masks and facial protectors, according to the government’s biosecurity regulations. Passengers must present an affidavit assuring that they are free of COVID-19 and have their temperature taken before boarding a flight.
Peru’s neighbor Ecuador reopened domestic and international air travel a month ago and is in the process of restarting interprovincial bus service.