Ecuatoriana Airlines Is Coming Back From Its Ashes

Yesterday, news broke out in Ecuador, pointing out that the historical State airline Ecuatoriana de Aviación is coming back with a little twist in its name: Ecuatoriana Airlines. The carrier ceased operations in 2006, but it was viewed as one of South America’s classic air companies during the last century. What else do we know about the rebirth of Ecuatoriana? Let’s investigate further.

Ecuatoriana de Aviación
The rebirth of Ecuatoriana de Aviación could present good opportunities for the Ecuador market. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

Is it a done deal?

The Ecuatorian journalist Nicolas Larenas broke the news. He said that a new project is in place in Ecuador. A group of investors is looking to obtain an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to launch domestic routes.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

Instead of looking for a new name for the airline, the investors are reclaiming the old brand of Ecuatoriana de Aviación.

According to the journalist, Ecuatoriana de Aviación 2.0 would start operating routes from Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Santa Rosa, Esmeralda, Manta and Loja.

Ecuatoriana would have 11 routes from Quito with up to 68 frequencies per week. It would have four routes from Guayaquil, three from Cuenca, two from Santa Rosa, three from Esmeralda, three from Manta, and three from Loja.

The Ecuador market is up for grabs. In May, the Ecuador government put TAME Ecuador, the former State carrier, in liquidation. Two of the other airlines that operate in the country, LATAM and Avianca, started reorganization processes under Chapter 11 in the US. Therefore, there could be a void left by these carriers, and a new airline could develop it in the post-COVID world.

What about the fleet?

The new Ecuatoriana Airlines has a lot of flexibility when it comes to its possible fleet. Nicolás Larenas said that the airline filed in its AOC the possibility of acquiring between five aircraft manufacturers. Surprisingly, Embraer is not an option.

Ecuatoriana Airlines could use Beechcraft B1900C airplanes or go either for the Dash 8-Q200 or the ATR 42-500. It could choose Airbus, with the A220-100 or the A319, or with Boeing with any member of the B737 Classic series. Let’s analyze this information.

If Ecuatoriana chooses the Airbus A220, it would have to be a brand new order. However, if it chooses any other option, it would be leasing a fleet that has already been around for quite a time. For instance, Boeing stopped the production of the B737 Classic series in the year 2000.

Given the Ecuador geography, maybe the best options would be the ATR or the Dash 8-Q200. Also, because smaller airplanes will lead the aviation recovery after COVID-19, the turboprops have an edge. Nevertheless, those two airplanes have been around for quite some time, so maybe an investment in the newer ATR 42-600 or the Dash 8-400 would be worth it.

TAME Ecuador
TAME Ecuador ceased operations in 2020. Photo: Kambui via Wikimedia Commons.

A brief history of Ecuatoriana de Aviación

Ecuatoriana de Aviación is as iconic in Ecuador as Mexicana de Aviación is in Mexico. Both are historic carriers with a brand recognizable across their respective societies. The Ecuador airline was born in 1957.

Between 1974 and 1996, the government controlled the airline. Then, between 1996 and 2006, Ecuatoriana was a private-run company until it ceased operations. At one point, it flew from Quito and Guayaquil to Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago in the US. It also connected Ecuador with the Bahamas, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina.

Above all, Ecuatoriana de Aviación was one of the safest airlines in Latin America. Throughout its history, it never recorded a fatal accident. However, it had a string of bad luck with aircraft hijacking.

Between the 60s and the 70s, some people tried to kidnap two airplanes of Ecuatoriana. In 1969, they succeeded. An armed command took an Electra aircraft in Guayaquil with 77 passengers and eight crew. Then, they flew to Havana, Cuba, where they freed the people. There were no casualties.

Are you excited about the relaunch of Ecuatoriana de Aviación? Let us know in the comments.