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Panama Begins Phased Reopening of Tocumen International Airport For Transit

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Panama has taken its first step towards reopening the Tocumen International Airport which is a major hub for Latin America and was the busiest airport in Central America prior to the pandemic. 

Through an executive decree signed by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo on July 31, the Tocumen Airport will open for international transiting passengers and Panamanians to enter and exit the country under certain protocols. 

panama airport

According to to the Decree, transiting through the Tocumen International airport for international passengers and for the entry and exit of national citizens will be permitted.

“Establishing a controlled operation for the interconnection of international commercial aviation which allows limited transit through Tocumen International Airport and for the exit and controlled entry of Panamanians and residents of Panama.”

panama decree transit airport

However, the decree stated that transiting passengers through Tocumen International Airport will only be permitted providing that their two flights are no longer than six hours apart.

Panama’s borders have been completely locked down since late March until the decree was issued on Thursday.

The decree shared by the Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) on social networking site LinkedIn expressed that it was “the first step towards reopening the skies with a controlled operations center”.


Additionally travelers who had previous authorization from the Panamanian government to travel to the country, can do so provided they maintain health protocols.

Transiting passengers and foreign tourists have not been allowed in Panama since its borders closed at 23:59 local time on March 22, 2020.

panama city

International flights were expected to restart on July 22 but that has since been pushed back for another month.

Several repatriation flights have operated into Panama since the suspension of international flights, but these were operated mainly by Copa Airlines.

All returning Panama nationals and travelers with permission from the government will be expected to quarantine for 14 days. 

This is the first step the Panamanian government has made in loosening restrictions regarding international travel. 

No dates have been given on when Panama will begin reopening for international tourism. 

Update August 26: 

Panama has officially released their reopening plan, which was approved this Tuesday by the cabinet, and has international aviation and tourism activities set to restart on October 12, 2020.

Disclaimer: Panama's reopening news can change without notice and is being updated constantly. We do our best to keep this article up to date with all the latest information, but the decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.

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Keith Ferguson

Thursday 11th of November 2021

When is the extension for runway 03R At Tocumen

Calamity Jane

Sunday 21st of February 2021

Looks like there are some up updates to travel to/transit through Tocumen Airport.

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 21st of February 2021

Hello:) This is a news article from the summer, and we don't update old news articles (just our guides) We have our Panama Covid-19 entry requirements guide here: (Click HERE to read) and it is regularily updated


Friday 20th of November 2020

Hi Kashlee, Do you know if I need a negative Covid test to transit via PTY (Colombia-PTY-USA) ? I know you need one for entry, however the embassy website doesn’t specify if transits also need one. Thank you!

Kashlee Kucheran

Friday 20th of November 2020

With what I have heard, a test is not needed for transit. However, ask your airline, as they would be the ones checking if you have it as you board


Thursday 12th of November 2020

I have an 18 hour layover in panama city ( from AMS to panama to Jamaica) however, the regulations refer to a maximum of 9 hours. what are the available alternatives?

I will not leave the airport for that time.

Kashlee Kucheran

Thursday 12th of November 2020

It would be best to contact the airport directly so they can advise you properly.


Sunday 1st of November 2020

Before I travel there was no transit visa required for india passport at Amsterdam airport when your flight is connecting flight. But I want to know due to covid 19 any change in transit visa please I have to travel.

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 1st of November 2020

Please contact AMS airport to be sure