Cuenca News

Tame suspends Cuenca-Guayaquil flights

Government-owned Tame Airlines has ended its daily service between Cuenca and Guayaquil, claiming the route is not profitable.

Tame announced the end of Cuenca-Guayaquil service Monday.

“The route has not generated the demand we expected and the cash flow necessary to cover operational expenses,” the airline said in a brief statement Monday. The airline added that the decision to end service is not necessarily permanent and it will consider resuming service on a non-daily basis.

Tame also announced that was ending service to Latacunga.

The termination of flights has prompted a flurry of meetings between tourism and Cuenca city government officials but it is unclear what can be done to reverse the decision. Tame has been losing money for years and is currently seeking a majority commercial partner.

Tame is not the only airline to abandon the route. Latam and AeroGal also ended service in recent years.

Azuay Province Governor María Agusta Muñoz plans to meet this weekend Tame officials to learn more about the service suspension. Regional tourism director María Angélica León will also attend the meeting, saying she is concerned about the impact on the hotel and tourism industry in Cuenca.

Some transportation experts argue that the Guayaquil-Cuenca air service is no longer practical. “It’s really a ground shuttle service route considering the short drive-time between the cities,” says Carlos Estes, a Quito consultant for tour agencies. “Air service was needed 10 years ago when it took five hours to drive between the cities but with the improved highway it only takes only three. Today, you have the new 16-passenger mini-bus service, which runs hourly, not to mention the informal vans.”

Tame says it will maintain its Quito-Cuenca service, which it says is profitable.

  • DV

    TAME had already dropped service on this route
    ( for Saturday and Sunday ) back in March 2017.

    Not much a fan of TAME, to be honest. But it is
    disappointing not to have air service to GYE.

    Let’s hope that Quito & CUE remain linked via
    Air otherwise we won’t need the airport at all.

    Isolation from Quito would be a very bad deal.

  • Rich D’Amato

    Where can you find the mini-buses?

    • Frank Penny

      You can find them all over the place. For $12, it’s a quick, 3-hour ride to Guay. Look at it this way: a plane ride to Guay. takes 2 1/2 hours- you must be at the airport 1 hour early, then the flight is 1 hour, then you scramble through Guay. airport for 1/2 hour to get your bags/connecting flight. So, a 3-hour trip for $12 isn’t all that bad. Except for the rainy season, with mudslides/road closings,etc;
      This is bad for Cuenca tourism, though, since most 1st time Gringo visitors will not want to ride a van when they can fly for 55 minutes. Hope this works out, but TAME is part of the gubberment, and the gov’t here is sadly broke. Big time broke.

      • Rich D’Amato

        Thanks, Frank. I was referring specifically not to the unlicensed, quasi ¨turismo¨vans iike Operazuay on Crespo operates, but the larger Mercedes 15 pass. vans that the major Cuenca-Guyaquil operators (Ejecutive San Luis, etc) began operating when the airport was closed down. Do you know where they originate from, assuming that service is still operating?

      • James Snow

        So you fault a cash strapped government for shutting down a money-losing route? Sounds sensible to me.

    • Michael Berger

      There are at least 3 or four van companies on Remigio Crespo within two blocks of Feria libre. One time I counted five such companies there but that was a long time.

    • Dan

      The address is Unidad Nacional 4-47 y Remigio Crespo. It’s a couple doors south of the “Totems” on the east side of the street. The full name of the operation is Servicio de Microbuses Interprovincial Autorizado. They leave about once an hour.

      • Rich D’Amato

        Thanks so much, Dan! Much appreciated.

    • Donald

      There are 5 or 6 nice van services on Remigio Crespo between Ave. America and Unidad Nacional.

  • Jeff Van Pelt

    Tame gave such bad and sporadic service that many of us quit flying that route and opted for ground transportation instead. Tame has to get much of the blame for the route being unprofitable.

  • Jason Faulkner

    High-speed rail running down the spine of the country from Ibarra down through Quito, Ambato, Cuenca all the way to Loja with a branch going off to Guayaquil would be a good start. The country is just too small to make frequent air service viable. Maybe when oil hits $200 a barrel.

    • Michael Jones

      I too would love to see a reliable rail system, but the geophysical instability of the regions make that an economic impossibility – sadly.

      • Jason Faulkner

        It didn’t stop Japan even when they were climbing their way out of the economic chasm they found themselves in after the war. Ecuador would have to cultivate a lot of home-grown capacity, however, starting with tunnel and bridge building.

  • EcuBananas

    It really is too short of a drive to GYE to justify flying.

    • Dave

      Tame is terrible. They cancelled my flights at the gate on 3 different occasions. No explanation and no refund. For transportation to and from GYE, I always take the bus or mini-vans now. I have not flown TAME since their last theft of my money and I will never fly with them again. They are the worst airline I have ever encountered anywhere in the world.

      • Jason Faulkner

        No refund? Any ticket you buy with TAME is good for face value for 12 months even if you didn’t use it because you were running late.

  • Pixelvt

    I live 15 minutes from an airport that is also a 3.5 hour drive to Boston Logan at most. No service to Beantown and airlines have considered it, same problem, too close. I can fly to JFK, Philly, DC, etc easily. I think GYE is in the same boat which is good for drivers and busitas

  • Dan

    That is no surprise. Government owned airline can’t make any profits. They will drop the rest of routs and disappear.

    • James Snow

      As they should. Nearly every government-owned airline in the world has gone broke or is struggling. This IS an industry that does best in a competitive market……as long as the citizens don’t mind not being served by an airline if they don’t live on a profitable route.

      • Jason Faulkner

        They do best for themselves in a competitive market. That doesn’t do anything for people living in Ambato, Puyo, Macas, San Vicente, Loja, Tiasha, Ibarra . . .