During the last three years, the country had a great increase in internal routes through international and national companies.
By Florencia Lucero Heguy
The Republic of Ecuador is a small country, although with great potential for the internal flight market. About three years ago, it began to open local airlines, to better connect the cities of the country. It should be noted the incursion of two new airlines that aspire to compete in a market dominated by Latam Airlines Ecuador.
Thus, last year was a historic one for Ecuadorian aviation, as new airlines arrived and the number of domestic and international passengers increased. In 2017 the recovery of the air market began, in 2018 the figures were recovered achieving profitability, since that was when the number of passengers increased considerably. Due to these two years of growth, 2019 was the best in terms of the domestic market, achieving an increase in passengers at the airports of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.
The market was strengthened with the entry of Aeroregional with flights to Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Coca, Santa Rosa and Loja. On the other hand, the entry of international airlines such as Latam, with the new route to Manta, Coca and Santa Rosa, and Avianca, which also strengthened its presence in the local market, also helped to satisfy the needs of this country for internal routes. It is important to highlight that, in Santa Rosa, the economic potential is lower, but there is social relevance for the current government, since it favors the tourist, economic and cultural part of the province. Even so, the fourteen municipalities of El Oro should enhance their tourism, be more attractive in order to generate an incentive for tourists to travel and use the airport.
The two airlines of Ecuadorian origin Aeroregional and EC Plus Airline were a kick-start for the expansion of the domestic market. AeroRegional, which did only charter flights, began to compete in the domestic market and they fly the Cuenca-Quito-Guayaquil and Quito-Santa Rosa routes. For its part, EC Plus Airline, was founded in February 2019 and has its base of operations at Eloy Alfaro International Airport, corresponding to the city of Manta. It already has the permission of the authorities to operate national and international routes. The new company aims to cover the Manta-Quito-Manta, Quito-Guayaquil-Quito and Quito-Cuenca-Quito routes. This airline asked the National Aviation Council to incorporate into its current operating permit new equipment with which it intends to start operating. For the contracting of the aircraft they intend to do it through the leasing system that was already approved in January 2020 by the competent authority. It will be dedicated to the air transport of passengers with established itineraries and schedules and may carry out activities to rent air transport equipment for the transport of passengers as charter.
With the open skies policy and the incentives offered by each airport, it is not ruled out that more lines continue to be added. The growth factors in the Ecuadorian air market are due to the country’s economic recovery, confidence to invest, new incentives for airlines at DGAC airports, and a strategy of attracting airlines by airports and authorities.
Beyond this boom that Ecuador had in recent years, there is still a need for more competition on internal flights, especially to lower the cost of tickets.