As flagged by One Mile At A Time, El Salvador has added a staggeringly high tariff it calls an “Airport Improvement Fee” for citizens of India and several African nations who are flying through El Salvador International Airport.
New “Airport Improvement Fee” Targets Citizens Of India, Africa Flying Via El Salvador International Airport
Passengers traveling with passports from a number of African and Indian nations now face a new fee of $1,000 per passenger, plus a 13% tax, for a total of $1,130 each, payable directly to the airline, when transiting (“pasajeros en tránsito”) Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez International Airport (SAL), more commonly known as El Salvador International Airport.
This is being called an “Airport Improvement Fee” meant to “provide a first-class service to all users.”
The new fee exclusively impacts the following nationalities, including India and South Africa:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Guinea – Bissau
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of the Congo
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Western Sahara
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- Republic of South Africa
- South Sudan
Is El Salvador Doing The Bidding Of USA Or Simply Does Not Want These Visitors?
Under President Nayib Bukele, El Salvador has targeted gang members and cracked down on crime. It is also working more closely with US authorities to block pathways for migrants from the developing world to illegally enter the USA. Many have come to El Salvador and start thier overland journey there.
In this case, “transit” is being defined as not just those who travel from country A to country B via El Salvador, but all who transit (i.e. set foot in) the airport including arriving passengers to El Salvador.
But just as I was quizzed by US OFFICIALS inside San Salvador Airport, one has to wonder whether this staggering new tax is being levied at the behest of the US wanting to discourage the flow of people across the southern border.
One Mile At A Time also points out that that Brian Nichols, the United States Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, recently met with Bukele:
Had an excellent meeting with @nayibbukele. We discussed El Salvador’s support for the international mission in Haiti, efforts to promote foreign direct investment in El Salvador, bilateral cooperation on rule of law, and mutual efforts to address irregular migration. -BAN pic.twitter.com/cLcCOHYlAT
— Brian A. Nichols (@WHAAsstSecty) October 26, 2023
El Salvador is adding a steep new tariff meant to discourage citizens form 56 African nations and India from flying via El Salvador. The new tariff is already in effect and amounts to a staggering $1,130 per passenger.
In one sense, is this policy all that much different from the US making citizens of many of the 57 nations above go through a much more burdensome and expensive process to obtain a visa to the US than citizens of more developed countries? On the other hand, this policy strikes me as a particularly punitive way of dealing with travelers deemed undesirable.