Lan Ecuador Airlines announced it will begin in-country service to Cuenca in early May. Eduardo Ramirez, executive director of the Cuenca airport authority said a start-up date will be announced by early April.
Meanwhile, Aero Cuenca, a new airline, has received authorization to provide Quito and Guayaquil service but no dates have been established for the beginning of flights.
Lan, an international carrier based in Chile, will begin operations with Cuenca to Guayaquil and Guayaquil to Cuenca routes, adding Cuenca – Quito – Cuenca flights in June, according to Ramirez said. The addition of Lan to the local market means there will be five daily flights to and from Guayaquil. Tame and AeroGal offer two flights each.
Lan’s Guayaquil flight will leave Cuenca at 11:15 a.m., arriving in Guayaquil at 11:50 a.m. while the return flight will leave Guayaquil at 12:45 p.m. and arrive in Cuenca at 1:20 p.m. According to Ramírez, the schedule may be adjusted later based on demand.
Pablo Calle, Tame Airlines Cuenca operations director, says Lan’s entry into the domestic market will affect the share of each of Tame and AeroGal. However, he said, it provides a challenge for Tame to improve its services. “The competition will make us work harder and this is good for the traveler."
According to Ramirez, the addition of Lan to the Cuenca air schedule will meet the increasing need for service to and from Quito. “The demand for this route is sometimes greater than exisiting capacity.”
Tame’s Calle believes that government controls will make sure that Lan, a much larger carrier, will not drive the competition out of business. “There have been concerns that Lan would do in Ecuador what it did in Peru, forcing national airlines out of business and increasing costs. We don’t think that will happen here.”
Jorge Romero, manager of AeroGal – Cuenca, called on Cuencanos to show preference to the national airlines, AeroGal and Tame. “I urge our customers to stick with the airlines that fly the national flag.”