CUENCA DIGESTGrounded for months, new airline will try to fly again

Mar 12, 2013

Nine months behind schedule, a new Cuenca-based airline says it will try again in April to get airborne.

The first aircraft of Línea Aire de Cuenca, or LAC for short, was delivered almost a year ago and the airline said it would begin flying in May 2012. Problems, including some with the national civil aviation agency, have kept the plane grounded in Quito and Cuenca.

The airline, which has an office in the Cuenca airport, now says it will begin flying April 15, with flights from Cuenca to Guayaquil and Quito. Plans for a Cuenca to Loja flight have not yet been approved by aviation authorities.

According to LAC general manager and part owner Luis Astudillo, the airline has hired pilots and is making preparations to begin operations in April. The airline will fly a Canadian-made Bombardier CRJ700, with a capacity for 70 passengers. The aircraft was originally delivered to Ecuador from Miami, April 21, 2012.

Oversight committee to monitor light rail project

Thirteen students from local universities have been named to a citizens’ council to monitor the construction and implementation of Cuenca’s new light rail sytem, or Tranvia. The quarter-billion dollar project began construction two weeks ago.

Called the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control, the new group says it has three primary objectives, according to member Monica Banegas. The first it is monitor potential conflicts of interest between government officials and employees and the companies involved in construction. The second is to make sure that the employment process is fair and open. The third is to establish a process to make sure that the train system is meeting its social and transporation objectives.

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The project has been criticized on several fronts for lack citizen participation. Cuenca city councilman Lauro López has asked Cuenca mayor Paul Granda to convene a special council meeting to discuss several issues. In particular, López  questions the economic viability of the project based on the 25-cent fare the city says it will charge passengers.

New traffic detention center to be operational in April

Due in part to criticism that it is not fair that traffic law violators be put in jail with hardened criminals, the city of Cuenca says it is refurbishing a building next to the city jail for to accommodate “non violent” violators.

The new facility is being renovated, cleaned and painted and will begin accepting inmates April 15, according to Maria Soledad Escandon, spokesperson for the city.

Wilson Muñoz, president of the Cuenca Safety Commission agreed that the jail is not the place for traffic offenders. “They should not be housed with robbers, rapists and murders. It is only reasonable that they have separate accommodations.”

New cultural events agenda begins distribution

Beginning this month, Cuenca’s Casa de la Cultura is distributing a monthly cultural events agenda.

Cristóbal Zapata, Casa de la Cultura board of director’s member, said  that the agenda will fill the void left when the City of Cuenca discontinued publication of its cultural agenda in 2009, due to budget cuts. “The citizens of Cuenca have a difficult time finding out about events in the city and this guide will help keep them informed. This is a public service that is badly needed.”

Unlike the old agenda, which was a professionally designed 120-page monthly magazine, the new agenda will be a brochure. Zapata says that 1,000 copies will be printed and be distributed at restaurants, cafés, theaters and public institutions.

Organizations supporting publication of the new agenda, in addition to the Casa de la Cultura, are the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra, the Ecuador Ministry of Culture, CIDAP, INPC and the Cuenca Biennial.

Photo caption: The LAC aircraft has sat idle for almost a year; Cuenca's light rail, Tranvia.

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