MANAGUA—Responding to growing demand from Nicaragua’s tourism sector, American Airlines announced it will add a third daily flight from Nicaragua to Miami starting Nov. 17, meaning there will now be more seats and discount airfares available for travel to and from the United States.
The new flight will depart Miami at 12:55 p.m., arriving in Managua at 2:30 p.m. It will then depart Managua at 3:45 p.m., arriving back in Miami at 7:15 in the evening.
“The new flight is going to be good for people doing business in Nicaragua because it will allow people to work a half day in Managua and still get to Miami in time to make connecting flights to the West Coast,” said Juan Gómez, general manager of American Airlines in Nicaragua. “It will also allow tourists on Corn Island to spend their last night in Nicaragua on the island and fly back to Managua in the morning to connect to Miami on an afternoon flight.”
For tourists and expats living in Granada and León, the flight is also welcome news because it means weary travelers won’t have to set their alarms for some horrible pre-dawn hour to make it to Managua in time for 7 a.m. flight. The earlier return flight is also a bonus because it means travelers heading to Granada won’t have to brave the dreaded Tipitapa Highway—one of the darkest and most perilous stretches of roads in Central America; a modern-day Apache Trail—after nightfall.
But perhaps the best news of all is that the new flight means there’ll be 160 more seats American Airlines must fill every day. Though the increase in available tickets won’t necessarily drive down airfares, it does mean that there will be more discount seats made available for savvy travelers who know when to look for the best fares.
(Here’s a hint for Nicaragua Dispatch readers: On Friday Nov. 11 (today!), America Airlines is offering special one-day only promotional sale on flights from Managua to Miami. The discount rates are available only in AA’s central office in Managua, located 300 meters south of the Rotonda El Gueguense, and at the AA Kiosk in Galerias Santo Domingo Mall.)
Tourism minister applauds new flight
Tourism Minister Mario Salinas is celebrating the new flight as a herald of continued growth in Nicaragua’s small but mighty tourism sector.
“American Airlines is increasing its offer because there is an increase in demand, which is important,” Salinas told The Nicaragua Dispatch.
Salinas said Nicaragua’s tourism industry, which last year reached the milestone of 1 million annual visitors, is growing by 4 percent this year, down slightly from what the government’s Tourism Institute (INTUR) had projected for this year.
The good news, Salinas said, is that tourism-generated revenue this year is up 20 percent from 2010, and is on track to reach $400 million this year. The reason why revenue is growing faster than visitors is because people who come to Nicaragua are staying longer, Salinas said.
“In 2007, the average stay here was four or five days. Now it’s eight days,” Salinas said. “Gradually the country is becoming a tourism destination, not just a stop on the way to somewhere else.”
The minister said most tourists coming to Nicaragua are from the United States, followed by Honduras. He said the 2012 tourism goal is for a 7 percent increase in visits from foreign tourists.
Salinas applauds American Airlines for adding a new daily flight, and says he hopes other airlines do the same. Seventy percent of American Airline’s passengers flying to Nicaragua are from the United States, so the U.S. share of Nicaragua’s tourism market could grow even more next year thanks to the new flight.
“We need support to grow tourism; we need infrastructure and more ways to get tourists to Nicaragua,” the minister said.
American Airlines’ Gomez says his company is ready to grow with Nicaragua, and help the country’s tourism sector get stronger every year.
“Nicaragua is in all the tourism catalogues now,” Gomez says. “It’s definitely on the radar.”
For more information on the new flight, click here.