Punta Arenas: Strikes easing

Punta Arenas: Strikes easing

January 17, 2011

Strikes paralyzed Chilean Patagonia last week, as thousands took to the street to protest increases in the price of gas and the projected removal of a government subsidy. There were significant demonstrations and some rioting in the region’s capital Punta Arenas, and all roads and ferry crossings leading into the city have been subject to blockades, including the one leading to the region’s Presidente Carlos Ibañez Airport.  Puerto Natales was also blockaded, and the roads leading to the Argentinian border were closed by demonstrators.

The unrest appears to be easing, however, with demonstrators agreeing to allow tourists to pass blockades in order to leave the area.

On Sunday, Radio Cooperativa reported that Chile’s air force transported 3,000 tourists stranded in Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas.

Flights have continued to operate throughout the crisis, although on a limited basis.  The issue for most travelers has been getting to the airport, rather than the flights themselves.

The unrest has created a snowball effect on flights from Santiago to the US.  Many travelers were unable to leave Patagonia to catch their flights back home, and are now scrambling for space.  If you are flying back from Santiago, be sure to arrive at the airport very early for your flight.  Standby lists are long, and late arrivals are likely to find that their seats have been awarded to standby passengers.

If you are booked for travel to Patagonia within the next few days, consider delaying your trip until the situation resolves itself.    Your Exito agent will be happy to assist you in evaluating your options.

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