Cuenca airline passengers will soon see a price reduction of between 40% and 60% on round-trip airfare to Quito. In addition, they will have a greater number of flights to choose from.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Paúl Granda made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference with officials from Latam Airlines. The lower fares and increased number of flights are the result of the government’s decision to reinstate the jet fuel subsidy that was eliminated in 2014.
“Although the subsidy represents an expense to the government, we believe that it will be offset by increased revenue from tourism, trade and productivity,” Granda said. “This is the calculation we are making and we have confidence in it.”
A former Cuenca mayor, Granda said the subsidy will also apply to flights between Cuenca and Guayaquil but said the route would continue to be covered by smaller, prop-driven aircraft. “We will see some increase in flights for the route, especially as new carriers enter the market, but since it is well-covered by shuttle vans and buses, so we don’t anticipate a high level of growth there,” he said.
In August, Granda helped negotiate a deal with government-owned Tame Airlines to resume service on the Guayaquil route, which had been suspended earlier in the year.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Latam said it would begin offering promotional fares from Cuenca for as low as $59 round-trip and that it would increase the number of Cuenca-Quito flights from 11 to 19 a week.
“We are adding 1,200 seats on eight flights between Cuenca and Quito,” said Latam executive director Manuel van Oordt. “With our promotional fares, we hope to sell an additional 4,000 seats through the end of the year.” He added that Latam is purchasing a new aircraft to cover the additional Cuenca flights.
In addition to increasing flight frequency to Cuenca, van Oordt said new flights would be added to the Quito-Guayaquil route, increasing seating capacity by 25%. The lower fares will go into effect the first week of December, he said.
Granda’s announcement followed the signing of a decree by President Lenin Moreno to provide a 40% fuel subsidy to airlines operating in Ecuador.