Ecuatoriana Airlines, the new startup carrier in Ecuador, plans to launch operations using a fleet of Boeing 717-200 and Dash 8-Q400 aircraft, according to a statement released by the company. While the actual debut for Ecuatoriana remains to be determined, everything seems to be moving towards a launch by the end of 2021.
Currently, no Latin American carrier uses the Boeing 717 on commercial flights, according to data provided by aircraft tracking service Cirium.
In fact, worldwide, only three airlines are operating B717 flights in the next two weeks. These carriers are Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Qantas. Between April 26 and May 10, these three carriers are planning 5,669 flights with the type, offering 654,274 seats across domestic routes.
Ecuatoriana Airlines believes the 717 is the perfect aircraft to operate in this South American country. In a statement, it said, “After careful planning, research, and analysis, Ecuatoriana Airlines has decided on the Boeing 717-200 aircraft. It operates well in both mountain and coastal routes and is suited for shorter runways, such as the one in Cuenca.”
Last year, the airline requested permission from the Ecuador civil aviation authority to operate 29 routes from seven cities, Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Santa Rosa, Esmeralda, Manta, and Loja. In addition, the airline is investigating the possibility of making Cuenca the country’s third international airport, by offering flights to Peru and Colombia. “In the past, flights from Cuenca connected Cusco and Lima and we are considering reestablishing these as well as a route to Medellin, Colombia,” an airline spokesman said.
The 717-200 is a twin-engine jet with a capacity of 115 passengers configured on three classes. The airline has not announced whether it has signed a leasing contract or plans a purchase.
Additionally to the B717-200, Ecuatoriana Airlines will also use a fleet of Dash 8-Q400 aircraft. The airline stated, “We will operate with the Dash 8-Q400 turboprop domestically and also on some cross-border flights. The Dash 8-Q400 has a capacity of up to 78 passengers in a configuration of two classes, being ideal for domestic short-haul flights of less than 1.5 hours in duration, and its low operating costs will allow us to transfer these savings to our passengers.”
Ecuatoriana Airlines is one of a number of startup airlines planning to begin operation in Latin America as the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. “We have not established a beginning date for our service but hope it is in the second half of the year,” the airline said. “We believe that 2022 and 2023 will see the recovery of air traffic demand in Ecuador and we want to be established by then to take advantage of the recovery.”