By Karla Betania Sánchez Arismendi
Carlos Alvarez Mantilla, director of the Chief Office of Civil Aviation (DGAC), has rejected a request from city authorities to declare an air service emergency in Cuenca. The municipality requested the emergency status due to a reduction of flights to the Marsical La Mar airport. According to Alvarez, such a declaration would require closing the airport.
Cuenca officials requested the emergency status after government-owned Tame Air suspended flights on the Cuenca-to-Guayaquil route and Latam Airlines failed to add new Cuenca-to-Quito flights that it had promised. Tame says it suspended service due to low passenger demand while Latam said the new flights will begin next month when one of its aircraft is repaired.
The city is also asking DGAC to expedite the process for allowing new airlines to begin operatoins at the airport, claiming that current rules are inflexible. Mantilla responded that the process is working properly, citing the fact that Aero Regional, an airline requesting permission to operate in Cuenca, has moved through phase II of the three-phase certification process. He added that the application for ConectaAir, which will offer air taxi service, in the advanced stages and will be approved soon.
Mantilla said that Mariscal La Mar is one of 18 airports in the country that enjoys the 40 percent government aircraft fuel subsidy. The subsidy went into effect in November and has resulted in a reduction of fares.