President Lenín Moreno has eliminated regulations he claims keep some foreign airlines out of Ecuador. His goal, he says, is to reduce airfare and increase tourism and trade.
According to Minister of Transport and Public Works Paul Granda, Moreno’s Open Air policy will promote airline competition in both the passenger and cargo markets and lead to bilateral agreements with other countries with similar airline policies.
“Under current aeronautical rules, there is no incentive for many foreign airlines to operate in the country,” Granda said. “Among the benefits of Open Skies is an increase in the number of flights in and out of Ecuador and a reduction in fares. It will also increase connectivity with the world, promote trade and foreign investment,” he said.
Granda added that the new policy is part of the government’s program of economic rejuvenation.
Moreno’s decree follows a November decision to restore a 40% airplane fuel subsidy that had been eliminated in 2014 by former president Rafael Correa. Beginning in December, most of the country’s airport saw an increase in passenger trafficl as domestic carriers added flights and lowered fares. In Cuenca, Latam Airlines added nine weekly flights and Tame added three.
Ecuador’s tourism industry applauded the announcement. “For years, we have been asking the government to adopt Open Skies to help rebuild foreign tourism,” said Holbach Muñetón, president of the National Federation of Chambers of Tourism of Ecuador. “This is a positive move not just for tourism businesses but for the economy in general,” he said.
Muñetón said that airports in Cuenca, Latacunga, and Manta could see regional international flights as a result of Open Skies. “This will help Quito and Guayaquil, of course, but it will also encourage cross-border flights from Peru, Chile, and Colombia at the second-tier airports. “We would like to see the Cuenca to Cusco and Lima flights restored,” he added.