Wait Times Returning to Normal at Airport
Arrival and departure of international passengers at Roatan’s Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport went much more smoothly today than a week ago, when some passengers waited four hours or more to clear immigration because of new biometric identity check requirements.
“Today was a breeze compared to last week,” said Shanna Ebanks, the airport’s manager, upon exiting the international arrival area about a half-hour after the arrival of the Delta flight from Atlanta.
Normally three flights from the US arrive Saturdays on Roatan within less than half an hour of each other, sometimes creating a backlog of passengers clearing customs and immigration. Wait times expanded enormously earlier this month as Honduras implemented new requirements to electronically check the fingerprints of both arriving and departing international passengers. Immigration personnel, not yet used to the new system, were reportedly taking four to five minutes to process each arriving passenger September 13, and the queue for passport check stretched outside the doors of the arrival area. With the doors open, air-conditioned air escaped, forcing arriving passengers to wait for hours in sweltering heat.
Today six additional immigration staff were brought in from the mainland to speed up the processing. Sources said the processing time was reduced to about 3-4 minutes. Officials said 321 passengers were arriving between roughly noon and 12:30 on flights from Atlanta, Houston and Miami. By 12:15, passengers were already streaming out of the arrival area to waiting taxis and buses. The queues again stretched beyond the doors of the arrival area, but wait times appeared to be returning more or less to normal for a busy Saturday.
The line for departing passengers, which sources said snaked throughout the terminal September 13, also appeared to be moving smoothly today.
Representatives of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) circulated among passengers in the arrival area today distributing information about Roatan and helping to make the wait more bearable.
To speed up processing under the new requirements, Honduran authorities are offering online precheck at http://prechequeo.inm.gob.hn.