ECUADOR DIGESTNew Quito airport opens in February; could mean fewer national flights but an increase in international routes

Jan 19, 2013

Officials of Quito’s new international airport are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the possible negative impact on in-country flights when the new facility at Tababela opens February 20.

President of the airport commission, Marco Subía, says it is likely that there will be a “downward trend” in the number of national airline passengers and flights because of transporation problems between the airport and Quito. The Ecuador airline association is also predicting lower traveler numbers after the new airport opens. The most active national routes are Guayaquil, followed by Cuenca and Manta. “It will take several months before we will know the true affect,” said Subía. “We may see a drop in passengers at the beginning and then see the number return to the current level later.”

Although the new airport is only 15 miles from Quito, road construction delays mean that the trip to the city can take one-and-a-half to two hours. Taxi fares are exptected to be $25 to $30 each way. Airport and national business leaders worry that the extra drive-time and expense will reduce the number of travelers who come to Quito for meetings and then return to Cuenca and Guayaquil in the evening. “It will also be a problem for some international travelers who will need to go into Quito for lodging,” said Subía.

There has been some speculation that more flyers, especially foreign residents, will bypass Quito and opt to take international flights out of Guayaquil.

On the upside, officials expect to see an increase of international flights and announced that Aeroméxico will soon begin operations into Quito. Non-stop service between desitaintions such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Buenos Aires and Mexico City may be added as well, they say.

National airlines flying in and out of  the new aiport will include, Lan, AeroGal and Tame. International carriers will be American, Delta, Lan, KLM, Iberia, United Continental, Avianco, Copa, Taca and Aeroméxico.

Moderate quake rocks Manta and the central coast

An earthquake registering 4.9 on the Richter scale shook Ecuador's central coast Thursday morning. The quake was felt most strongly in Manta, Montecristi, Chone, Bahia de Caráquez and Canoa, areas that are historically prone to strong earthquackes. The quake was centered 15 kilometers offshore, west of  Manta.

A spokesman for Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute said the quake was not unusual for the area and said that it is a reminder that the coast is the country’s most active area for earthquake.

“It is important to remember that this is the area where techtonic plates collide and where we have experienced the strongest earthquakes,” the spokesman said. "It is possible, even probable, that the coast will experience more deveasting earthquakes since this has happened many times in the past."

A 9.0 quake offshore of Esmeraldas, north of Manta, in 1906, was one of the top ten strongest in modern world history. The Geophysical Institute puts Ecuador’s coastline in Zone 1, its highest earthquake danger classification. Quito and the northern sierra are in Zone 2 while Cuenca, because of the older, more settled geology of the area, is in Zone 3.

The strongest earthquake within the last 25 years in Ecuador, a 7.3 event, occurred at Bahia de Caraquez, north of Manta, causing major damage. 

Prices for domestic beer to remain the same
 
Ecuador’s tax authorities have announced that there will be no additional fees added to the cost of beer bottled in Ecuador. The move covers domestic brands Pilsener and Club, as well as three minor labels.

New taxes approved in 2011 by the National Assembly were due to go into effect in 2013. The taxes are part of a system of higher fees recommended by the World Health Organization to reduce alcoholism internationally. Taxes on most imported liquor, based on alcohol conent, will increase slightly, according to Internal Revenue Service sources.

Cutline: Jetways at Quito's new airport await the February 20 opening.

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