A two-man team from Lufthansa Consulting has begun an appraisal of the facilities, operations and future plans at Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport. The appraisal was ordered by the Cuenca Chamber of Industries under contract with the city of Cuenca.
Executive director of Cuenca Airport Corporation (CORPAC) Juan Fernandez says recommendations from Lufthansa’s Luis Cid-Fuentes and Denis Duarte will be used to plan for both short-term improvements and long-term airport expansion.
“They will deal with such issues as plans for expansion of the runway, current infrastructure, development of airport services, evaluation and revision of the operations manual, and the strategic business organization of CORPAC,” Fernandez said.
He added that Duarte and Cid-Fuentes will also study the causes of a April 2016 accident at the airport when a Tame Embraer 190 aircraft skidded off the runway. Ecuador’s civil aviation authority did not release a report on the accident, which prompted a repaving of the airport runway.
Like other airports in Ecuador, Mariscal La Mar has suffered a steep decline in air traffic since 2013, when the government eliminated a 40% fuel subsidy for in-country flights. Traffic has also suffered from what Fernandez calls “exceptionally high taxes and fees.” According the Ecuador Chamber of Commerce, the country has the highest air-travel taxes and fees in Latin America.
Because of the impact on tourism, in-coming President Lenin Moreno says he will examine taxes and airport fees and their impact on air travel in the country.
Lufthansa says it hopes to deliver a final report to CORPAC in late June or early July.