Blue Panorama says ‘arrivederci’ to Nicaragua

After three months of once-weekly flights, Italian airline Blue Panorama is leaving Nicaragua as suddenly and as quietly as it arrived

I was excited to read in the July 10 edition of The Nicaragua Dispatch that Blue Panorama had started a new flight from Managua to Rome—the country’s only non-stop flight to Europe, and at a decent price.

As soon as the Christmas-season flights went on sale, I booked a return trip to Europe to go and visit my family in December. I was really looking forward to it.

On Oct. 24, the trip became a little more real in my mind, when I landed in Managua at the same time that the once-per-week Blue Panorama flight was taking off. Cool! Seeing the Blue Panorama fight lift off sparked by curiosity as to what the current ticket price and seat availability are compared to when I booked my flight.

So I logged onto the Blue Panorama website, and, hmm…suddenly I can’t book any flights beyond Oct. 31. I went to “my bookings” to confirm my fears: my reservation was cancelled.

These flights have been advertised locally as for sale by a certain “Nicaragua Airways,” which would just appear to be a simple reseller of the Blue Panorama route and nothing more. Anyway, I phoned them immediately, and started the tedious process of repeatedly stating my name and telling them I had a confirmed flight reservation for December. I was transferred around a bit and then eventually asked to phone back in 10 minutes.

Eventually I got someone on the line who said, “How can I help?” I asked the obvious question, and the lady confirmed that the airline has canceled flights until further notice. The plane will leave once more on Wednesday, Oct. 31, but it will be a one-way flight; the plane is not coming back.

They hinted that if I had bought my ticket through Nicaragua Airways, then they would give me a refund. But I purchased my ticket via an online travel agent. After getting in contact with them, they I’m now in a 4-6 week process to get me my money back.

Unfortunately, the travel agent’s responsibility ends there, and now it’s up to me to pay extra for other available flight routes to avoid cancelling the trip altogether.

I guess the only good news is that I happened to check the webpage and discovered the airline was discontinuing its services. Otherwise, I wonder if they were actually planning to let me know about the cancellation before I turned up at the airport with my bags in hand .

Daniel Drake is a volunteer for the Zamora Terán Foundation, visiting from London, England.

 

 

 

  • jimmycoffee

    Who could have predicted that a business alliance between Central America’s least trustworthy businesspeople and Europes least trustworthy businesspeople would end in disaster?

    • Kelvin

      You didn’t, did you Mr. Coffee…or no doubt we would have all heard about it.

  • Amy

    I was one of the few people that actually got to take a Blue Panorama flight from Rome to Managua (booked it directly through Blue Panorama in Rome). I live in Managua but spend a lot of time in Rome because I lived there for 8 years before moving here. I took one of their first flights in August and was thrilled… it was much cheaper than the other airlines and only took about 13 hours rather than 24+… the plane was packed from Rome to Havana, then from Havana to Managua it was fairly empty. I was hoping this article would indicate WHY they stopped coming to Nicaragua. One person told me the airline has been denied permission from the authorities to travel this route; another person told me it’s because there wasn’t enough business. Did the author get a chance to investigate why it shut down?

    • Ata Rizak

      Amy , I think you answered the question yourself– ie, the flight from Havana to Managua was empty. I bet the flight from Managua to Rome was a total skeleton run. Instead of asking why was the flight canceled, it might be a better question to ask why was the flight was ever inaugurated in the first place. The whole thing reminds of the Mel Brooks’ movie “The Producers.” Let’s pick a flop, not promote it, and close the curtains in a few months. I bet someone make a quick buck on this flop. I wonder who. Hmmmmm…..

  • John Shepard

    The Havana connection was always the most interesting leg of the flight. I’m surprised that there weren’t more “solidarity” travelers . . . .I think a lot of Usanos would have made the flight if they knew about it as part of their Nicaraguan adventure. Plenty make the hop from Cancun.

    Havana (and Cuba) is fascinating to visit, but pricey by Nicaraguan standards. I was really looking forward to another trip; missed my window ) :

    • Kelvin

      But, it only stopped in Cuba on the way from Rome. It was no good for a return trip to Cuba/Managua.

  • Pedro Arauz

    Told you!:

    Pedro Arauz July 11, 2012

    They had so many empty seats the re routing to Managua was a needed intent before they close the operation. With Italy in such a bad shape people have to vacation in Toscana, how though!
    Reply

  • jojo

    This project was doomed from the beginning. Let’s be real here. Italians and most Europeans are not coming to Nicaragua. The economy in Europe is a mess and most Europeans are traveling to other parts of Europe and Asia- Not Central America and most definately not Nicaragua. Americans are traveling to Central America and more are coming to Nicaragua. Stop messing around with these silly projects that make no sense and have zero chance of success. The U.S. traveler is Nicaragua’s future. Not Italy.

  • http://www.protourism.biz Franco

    Blue Panorama has several problems at the moment even in Europe ,I hope in the next mounths is getting better.