Airlines drop flights due to low demand; Food delivery services are booming; Man busted with a million bucks in his backpack; Correa denied

Sep 7, 2020 | 14 comments

A lack of passengers continues to plague Ecuador’s airline industry almost three months after national flights resumed, officials say. “We had hoped for a faster recovery but it is happening very slowly,” says Latam spokesman Jaime Miranda. “We will add flights as demand warrants but the trend shows modest growth into 2021 and possibly beyond.”

Latam says the reactivation of commercial air service is slow in Ecuador.

Particularly worrying is that some flights that resumed in June and July have since been discontinued.

Manta, which had anticipated daily flights by the end of August, continues to see only two a week, on Monday and Friday, by Latam Arilines. Avianca, which operated flights for several weeks in July ended its service due to low bookings. Airport officials say that even with twice-weekly service, flights to Quito often operate at less than 60 percent capacity.

In Cuenca, airport director Juan Pablo Vega anticipated having two flights a day by the end of August but demand only warrants one a day by the city’s only carrier, Latam. “We hope to add weekend flights soon but this depends on ticket sales.” The good news in Cuenca, Vega says, is that flights to and from Quito are 80 to 90 percent full.

In smaller airports at Santa Rosa, Loja and Coca, there is concern that flights could disappear altogether. “The commercial carriers cannot operate in unprofitable markets so we hope to have sufficient demand so service to be maintained,” says Jorge Miller of the civil aviation board. “Flight reactivation to small cities is a major concern and we are in constant contact with airlines to monitor the situation.”

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According to Miller, there are 22 airports in Ecuador certified for scheduled commercial service but, as of Friday, only 10 were operating.

He adds that Ecuador air traffic is currently about 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels, mirroring the international rate.

Food delivery services are booming
Ecuador’s food delivery companies, including Uber Eats and Glovo, say their fleets have grown by at least 90 percent since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesman for Glovo says that 50 percent of its contract workers are professionals who lost their jobs during the economic contraction, “We have electricians, accountants and even lawyers driving our routes,” he said. Glovo says it has about 3,500 contractors in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Machala, Manta, Santo Domingo and Ambato.

Ecuadorian arrested in Peru with a million dollars in his backpack
The former president of a financial cooperative was arrested Friday in Aguas Verdes, Peru with more than one million dollars in his backpack. According to Peruvian police, Victor Eduardo Gonzales had just crossed the border and apparently planned to change the dollars for Peruvian Soles. In 2011, Gonzales was arrested but later released on a charge of illicit enrichment and was named president of the Huaquillas Savings and Credit Cooperative a year later. The Coop was investigated on money laundering charges in 2014 but the case produced no charges. Gonzales and the million dollars were turned over to Ecuadorian police.

Correa did not qualify for vice presidential candidacy
The president of the National Electoral Council, Diana Atamaint, said Saturday that former president Rafael Correa failed to qualify as vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Center-Fuerza Compromiso Social alliance by not registering in person at CNE headquarters. Correa sent a notarized document from his home in Belgium accepting the nomination but Atamaint says it did not constitute a legal acceptance. “The rules are clear that all candidates must appear in person to accept their nominations.” The CNE will make the final determination of Correa’s status but Atamaint said it will not be able to ignore the established regulation.

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