Flights to Chile disrupted after state of emergency declared

Helen Coffey
Lan Airlines airbus A320 in Santiago airport: Getty

Hundreds of flights to and from Chile are being delayed or cancelled after a state of emergency was first declared on 18 October.

According to updated advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the state of emergency, originally only applying to Santiago, is expected to last 15 days, following civil unrest around metro stations. Demonstrations first began on Monday after a 4 per cent hike in public transport fares was announced.

On 19 October the state of emergency was expanded to include Valparaiso, Concepcion, La Serena, Coquimbo and Rancagua after protests in Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Temuco, La Serena, Punta Arenas, Antofagasta, and Concepcion. At least eight people have been killed in the protests so far.

There is “a heavy military presence in these cities during this time”.

A curfew was also put in place from Monday evening till 6am on Tuesday 22 October in Valparaiso, Concepcion, Santiago, Rancagua, Antofagasta, La Serena, Coquimbo and Valdivia.

The FCO said: “There have been reports of domestic and international flights being delayed or cancelled. You should contact your airline prior to travel.

“If you need to travel from Santiago airport during curfew, show your boarding pass to the authorities as this should ensure safe passage to the airport.

“If you arrive at Santiago airport during the curfew the airport authorities will give you a ‘salvoconducto’ (safe conduct pass) to be able to leave the airport.

“Airline crews should show their official credentials to be able to travel to and from the airport during curfew.”

There were mass flight cancellations to and from Santiago airport this weekend, followed by almost 100 inbound service cancellations throughout the day on Monday 21 October.

Chile’s largest carrier, Latam Airlines, is letting passengers who are booked on flights from 20-24 October change their travel dates, free of charge, or cancel altogether for a full refund.

Vuela JetSmart said it would allow customers booked to fly today to reschedule their flights at no extra cost for any time in the next 30 days.

So far today, 64 flights into Santiago have been cancelled.

Santiago Airport has been active on social media, keeping passengers updated on Twitter.

The airport shared a picture of rows of camp beds set up in the terminal for travellers who were stranded in the airport.

“The number of passengers spending the night in the terminal has decreased,” it tweeted.

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