Air travel shows dramatic increase in Ecuador, other Andean countries; Numbers also up for Cuenca

Jun 4, 2022 | 14 comments

Air traffic between the countries of the Andean Community (CAN), including Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, increased 146.7% from February 2021 to February 2022.

The number of passengers using Cuenca’s Marical La Mar Airport doubled in 2021 compared to 2020.

In Cuenca, air traffic is also up dramatically although it still lags pre-pandemic levels.

According to CAN officials, the Andean countries accommodated 1,784,000 passengers in February 2022, compared to 723,000 in 2021. “We are making a comeback and believe we can return to the air travel levels of 2019, before the coronavirus epidemic, within a year,” said CAN General Secretary Jorge Hernando Pedraza, “Like other regions of the world, air travel suffered greatly in the past two years and we are very pleased to see the improvement.”

Pedraza said the improvement is “uneven” among CAN countries, with Peru showing a strong 314% rebound in air travelers while Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia saw 116.5%, 114.6% and 92.2% increases, respectively.

CAN said that national travel within countries is also on the rise, with 76% more passengers flying to domestic destinations in February 2022 than a year earlier.

“Air travel is a strong barometer of economic recovery, both in the business and tourist sectors,” Pedraza said Thursday. “Airports in all member countries are making upgrades to accommodate more travelers and reduce delays. Our intent is to improve our position among the world’s flying destinations.”

The number of passengers flying through Cuenca’s Marsical La Mar airport has rebounded strongly since 2020, when the Covid pandemic grounded flights for three months. In 2021, 205,000 passengers passed through the airport while only 110,000 used the facilities in 2020. Based on statistics through April of this year, airport officials believe the passenger count will rise to 350,000 in 2022, still below the 420,000 that used the facilities in 2019.

The all-time high for air travel through Cuenca was 2012, when 607,000 passengers arrived and departed the airport.

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