Last night, Aeronáutica Civil (Aerocivil), Colombia’s civil aviation authority announced the temporary closure of the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (above) in the Cali suburb of Palmira, leaving passengers stranded both at the airport and at other domestic and international airports with flights pending to Colombia’s third largest city.
The move to close the airport was due to civil disturbances related to the nationwide protests expressing discontent with President Ivan Duque’s fiscal reform package, and broader political policies of his administration. Cali experienced some of the worst violence and looting in the country, even though it must be emphasized that most protesters were peaceful. In fact, many local politicians have denounced the behavior and provocations of the national police force, including Cali’s own mayor, who announced that his own cousin was shot in the head while protesting,
Video of the moments after the Mayor of Cali’s young cousin was shot in the head during the protests:
Video de Carolina Bohòrquez pic.twitter.com/4bgC9iYaYc
— Carolina Bohórquez (@car49655116) May 3, 2021
According to Aerocivil, the airport was closed to flights and traffic at 5pm Monday, May 3 as blocked roads outside the airport have prevented the ingress and egress of both passengers and aviation workers. Operations will be restarted, says Aerocivil, once conditions permit. Sources inside Colombian’s commercial aviation sector tell Finance Colombia that flights remain suspended as of Tuesday morning, and they have no information on a projected reopening. As far as can be ascertained, Cali is the only Colombian airport closed due to civil unrest.
Allow for extra travel time to Medellín’s airport
Passengers to and from Medellín’s José Maria Córdova international airport (MDE) were inconvenienced by the preventive closure of the tunnel providing the most direct route to the airport, requiring passengers to take the longer “old route” out of the valley, adding up to 40 minutes to travel. The closure of the tunnel was decided in an abundance of caution after rioters destroyed a toll booth in the northern suburbs of Medellín, far from routes involving airport passengers. Rioters also tore down “fotomultas” or automated traffic cameras that issue traffic tickets. The fotomultas are widely hated, not only for their inconvenience and cost to commuters, but because they are allegedly issue erroneous and even false fines, leaving innocent motorists in an administrative nightmare.
Photo credit: Loren Moss