The return of international flights to Fortaleza from Europe and the US appears to be on the horizon. The Ceará Tourist Board expects direct connections to Paris to resume in June while those to other European capitals will come later this year. Advance negotiations are also underway for flights to the US.
Fortaleza-Paris first on the list
According to Arialdo Pinho, the Secretary for Tourism in the Ceará Government, the first international flights to Fortaleza will be those to Paris. He reported that Air France expects to resume its direct connections between the French capital and Fortaleza in June.
The airline plans to offer three Fortaleza-Paris flights a week, although the frequency will depend on travel restrictions. France opened up to Brazil in early spring with flights from Paris to Sao Paulo.
International flights to Fortaleza from Europe
Once the Fortaleza-Paris route opens up, the Ceará capital expects to welcome flights from two other European capitals. Amsterdam is first on the list with KLM flights, an airline that is already part of the Fortaleza hub. Air Europe with connections to Madrid will follow suit, resuming its direct flights with the Spanish capital.
Exact dates for the resumption of Air Europe and KLM services to Fortaleza are not yet known. However, the Ceará Tourist Board is optimistic that they will resume over the next few months.
Flights to the US
The state is reportedly in advance conversations with Brazilian airlines to restart services to the US from Fortaleza. Prior to the pandemic, several weekly flights connected the Ceará capital with cities in Florida and these are expected to resume shortly.
The Ceará Government has not disclosed which airlines will be offering the flights previously offered by Gol and Latam. In any case, services will be between Fortaleza and Miami and Orlando.
Return to 2019 levels
Pinho is confident that passenger traffic will gradually pick up in Fortaleza as the pace of the vaccination programme accelerates in Brazil. It also depends on travel restrictions for Brazilian tourists.
“I believe that by September, we will be free to fly,” Pinho said. “That’s what I’m dreaming of and what everyone in the tourist industry is dreaming of.” He added that tourism analysts expect flight frequency to return to 2019 levels once travel restrictions are fully lifted.
Pinho underlined the fact that European holidaymakers are vital for tourism in Ceará. In 2019, the state welcomed one of the highest number of foreign tourists in Brazil. And the rise in international flights to Fortaleza Airport meant it was the third busiest in the country.
Domestic tourism on the rise
Meanwhile, Ceará tourism continues to recover. According to the Ceará Accommodation and Tourism Association (AMHT), occupancy levels are looking promising for July. Small hotels and pousadas (traditional inns) should reach around 70% occupancy.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand,” said Vera Lúcia da Silva, President of AMHT. “If things continue as they are, we have high expectations for July.”
Small resorts in quieter locations are in particular demand this year as Brazilians seek to spend their holidays away from the crowds. This trend adds to the appeal of resorts such as Guajiru and Flecheiras on the Ceará coast.
(Source: Diario do Nordeste)