In June 2023, new direct air routes were launched to and from Ecuador, with the main aim of enabling users to connect to the country via direct flights. At the same time, the Ecuadorian government lowered the air tax on flights departing from Quito and Guayaquil airports. These are considerable steps forward in opening up Ecuador to the rest of the world, particularly for the tourism sector.

June 2023 launch schedule

June 1, 2023: The first route to open at the beginning of June 2023 is from Quito to New York. Operated by Colombian airline Avianca, the route currently runs five times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

June 15, 2023: Operated by the same airline, a direct service from Mexico was opened, flying from Quito to Cancún. The flight operates three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It has over 2,000 seats aboard an Airbus A320.

June 16, 2023: There’s no such thing as a one-way trip: on the following day, Mexico’s Viva Aerobus offers flights from Cancún to Quito. Flights are also operated on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

June 27, 2023: At the end of the month, Panama’s Copa Airlines opened a Panama-Manta route. Manta is an Ecuadorian seaside town on the country’s Pacific coast. Flights operate three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

An "open sky" government policy since the end of the pandemic

According to a press release from Ecuador’s Ministry of Transport and Public Works, the aim of this operation is multiple: to exceed the number of international air operations that existed before the 2020 pandemic, in order to attract international investors and promote the country’s economic and productive development. The Ministry stresses the need for “an open skies policy“.

Thanks to these flights, we are offering better options to travelers, attracting international investment and promoting the economic development of our country” said the Ministry in a statement issued in March.

Last March, the country inaugurated 4 other international routes:

  • Guayaquil-Bogotá;
  • Guayaquil-Medellin;
  • Guayaquil-Cartagena;
  • and Quito-Medellin.

In all, 11 new air routes have been inaugurated between Ecuador and countries on the American continent such as the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Argentina over the past two years, since the elimination of sanitary barriers.

Several air routes on the American continent had been opened in the past, including the Miami-Quito route. However, this had only flown until February 2017. As Latam’s Commercial Director in Ecuador mentioned when this daily flight was reopened in October 2022: “[…] now we’re taking it back because of its importance. We are very happy because it is an emblematic route for Latam“. The United States is Ecuador’s number-one market in terms of air flights, which is why it was necessary to open direct air routes to the global giant.

In particular, the opening of these air routes has enabled Quito Turismo, the state-owned metropolitan tourism company, to meet its targets for the number of visitors to the country each year.

Lower air tax for Ecuadorians

At the same time, the government has decided to lower the Eco Delta tax applied to international flights departing from Guayaquil and Quito airports. From June 1, the tax, originally set at $50, will be reduced to 5% of the net fare for air transport services, with a ceiling of $50.

To give an example, the Quito-Bogota-Quito route had a round-trip fare of $264.06 on May 25, 2023. With the reduction in taxes applied at the beginning of June, the cost of the trip is now 217.67 dollars, a saving of 46.40 dollars.

According to Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism Niels Olsen, the reduction in air taxes is in favor of Ecuadorian travelers and national tourism, as it makes travel to Ecuador more competitive.

As of today, flights to and from Ecuador are already cheaper! According to ALTA, Ecuador used to be one of the least competitive countries in the region in terms of air connectivity, due to all the taxes and fees that affect the final price of air travel. Today, under President Lasso’s government, we have signed an open skies agreement, eliminated airline ISD and reduced Eco Delta and Ecuador PT taxes to 5% of the net value of the air ticket, which is already available as of today for Quito and Guayaquil airports,” said the Minister of Tourism, in a reminder of the government’s efforts.

Consider opening up to Europe

Even though the country will be connected to more than 72 international destinations, direct or otherwise, since the latest openings in June, the country remains very little open to direct flights from Europe in particular. Today, only two direct routes link Ecuador to the European continent:

  • Germany’s KLM operates direct flights from Amsterdam to Quito and Guayaquil to Amsterdam, both from Tuesday to Sunday. The direct Quito-Amsterdam flights operate on the same days, and all make a stopover in Guayaquil, but don’t worry, there’s no connection to be made – travelers remain on board the aircraft.
  • The other option available to travellers is the Madrid-Quito route, operated by Spanish airline Iberia. Direct Madrid-Quito flights are operated every weekday except Wednesday. Direct Quito-Madrid returns are operated on the same days.

Despite this lack of connectivity to other continents, by May 2023 Ecuador had recovered 91% of its pre-March 2020 international connectivity, with over 18 direct international destinations linked by 28 air routes and 314 weekly flights.

With the government’s commitment to an “open skies policy“, Ecuador could become the most competitive country in its region in terms of connectivity, bringing in many international travellers and developing the country’s international tourism sector like never before.