Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said Thursday that there is no definite start date for the resurfacing of the runway of Mariscal La Mar Airport, although he says he hopes work will begin between August 16 and 20. He blamed the delay on contract details.
An airport official said that flight schedules will be maintained as usual until work begins. The official added that there have only been five flight cancellations due to wet runway conditions in the past three weeks and that continued dry weather is forecast.
Meanwhile, owners and drivers for tour van companies are protesting the decision of the National Traffic Agency (ANT) not to allow them to provide passenger van service during the 30- to 37-day airport closure. The ANT decided last week that inter-provincial bus companies will provide the service between the Cuenca airport and Guayaquil and Quito.
Samuel Coronel, vice president of the National Federation of Vans, claims that the ANT ignored his organization’s request to be involved in the airport transportation plan. “We have been serving the public for 15 years with safe, comfortable transportation and they didn’t give us the chance to participate in the plan,” he said. “We will continue to show our disagreement with ANT until they talk to us.” Protesters are marching outside Cuenca ANT headquarters and at the airport.
Legislation is pending in Ecuador’s National Assembly that would allow tour van companies to legally provide inter-provincial transport services throughout the country. The measure is opposed by bus companies.
According to the ANT, bus service from the Cuenca airport to Guayaquil will cost $12.50, while service to Quito will cost $21. The bus companies will operate 16-passenger Mercedez Benz mini-buses on the routes.