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Airline adds seasonal nonstop flights from Oakland to El Salvador

Avianca Airlines will launch new nonstop flights from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to El Salvador International Airport (SAL). | Source: Courtesy Avianca

Avianca Airlines will launch new nonstop flights from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to El Salvador International Airport (SAL).

Avianca said the new flights will run four times a week and seat 180 passengers per trip, with service beginning Dec. 11 through Jan. 29, 2024.

An Avianca spokesperson said flights from Oakland will be available on their website by Thursday afternoon. Direct flights are also available between SFO and SAL on Avianca.

“We’re thrilled to welcome a new international carrier at OAK, especially one like Avianca with a rich history of service for more than a century,” Craig Simon, Port of Oakland interim director of aviation, said. “The new service creates opportunities to build upon family connections between those in [the U.S. and Latin America]. It also makes it much easier for business travelers and tourists to connect closer to their destinations.”

The Americas’ oldest carrier, Avianca’s main hubs are Bogota, Colombia, and El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador. Flights from Oakland to San Salvador are timed to allow easy connection to neighboring destinations such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

In related news, Southwest Airlines launched new nonstop daily flights from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on Tuesday.

United Airlines also recently announced the resumption and expansion of some Asia/Pacific routes from San Francisco International Airport. Alaska Airlines recently said it would slash routes from SFO. Southwest announced its own cuts from SFO in July.

El Salvador Tourism

The capital city of San Salvador sits in the Boquerón Volcano Valley, surrounded by volcanoes. | Source: Getty Images

El Salvador has sought greater visibility as a top-tier tourist destination recently, organizing and arranging to host around a dozen international sports tournaments over the last five years.

In November last year, the Lonely Planet travel guide listed the country among the world’s 30 best destinations to visit.

The country has used the U.S. dollar since 2001 before adopting Bitcoin in 2021 as its second official currency. The Salvadoran colón was the nation’s former official currency before 2001.

El Salvador has drawn international attention for a crackdown on criminal gang activity run by President Nayib Bukele since March last year. At least 153 people have died in custody since the emergency powers crackdown began, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Officially, the government has arrested more than 68,000 people under the special powers since March 2022. More than 5,000 people have also been freed after arrest, according to authorities.  

Other human rights groups and foreign governments have condemned the government’s actions and called for the lifting of what were supposed to be temporary measures.  

Bukele, however, maintains high levels of approval within El Salvador for his actions against the gangs. According to Reuters, a poll suggests he would easily win a second five-year term in next year’s elections.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.