Australia’s airlines are struggling to deal with the Zika outbreak as thousands of people continue to contract the virus in a pandemic that has devastated tourism in many parts of the world.
In Cusca, Brazil, passengers arriving from the north-west of the country on Saturday reported their first cases of the Zika strain.
While many airlines have been busy managing the outbreak, Cuscos has been unable to handle a backlog of incoming passengers, with the airlines running out of accommodation and staff to process all the new arrivals.
In a statement, the airline said: “We’re extremely disappointed by the lack of accommodation available in Cuscos.
It is very difficult to manage and to manage quickly when there is so much going on in Cuzco.”
Cuscos said it was trying to accommodate the growing number of passengers on its flights as well as its airport staff.
“It’s difficult to keep the pressure on staff to keep up with the demand,” it said.
The Cuscus Airport has been hit hard by the outbreak as a number of flights were cancelled and the airport was unable to reopen its main terminal on Saturday due to the outbreak.
Air New Zealand said on Sunday it was also planning to temporarily close its main airport in Wellington in the South Island as it continues to deal a high volume of incoming air passengers.
“We have had to make some tough decisions in the face of an unprecedented number of travellers arriving in our Wellington terminal, which is one of the busiest in the world,” the airline’s chief executive, David Gifford, said in a statement.
“This will not have an impact on our Wellington operations.”
The Cuzcus Airport said it had seen a large increase in the number of incoming flights this week.
“Due to the increased demand and the ongoing Zika virus, we are currently experiencing a significant increase in arrivals and departures,” the airport said in its statement.
“Due to this we have limited capacity at the Wellington airport.”
The Zika virus has caused a spike in cases across South America, where more than 800,000 people have contracted the virus and more than 4,000 have died.
The WHO has estimated that more than 80 per cent of the cases in South America have been in Brazil.
The outbreak has also impacted the country’s tourism industry.
Tourism is expected to see a sharp rise in Brazil this year, with more than 40 million people expected to visit the country this year.
The Zika outbreak has been blamed for a drop in tourist arrivals in South Africa.
But the airline and tourism industry have both defended the government’s response to the crisis.
Airline chief executive Ian Smith said in the statement that while the airlines had “lost control of the situation”, they were “working hard to get through it”.
“We remain committed to our customers, and to doing everything we can to help them through this tough time,” he said.
Airlines and tourism groups have also pointed out that the Cuscas region, which lies on the border of Brazil and Colombia, is a key trade route for some of the largest corporations in the region.
Cuscas was the first stop on a popular tour of Colombia during the early days of the pandemic, and its hotels and restaurants are now among the countrys top destinations for tourists.
Tourists and airline representatives have been working hard to support the local economy and to promote the region as a destination for visitors.
Air Canada said it is working closely with local authorities to help boost tourism and the economy.
“The company is working to support Cusconas tourism as we work to bring the region back to normalcy and to help restore confidence,” the company said in an emailed statement.