The Ecuadorian Civil Aviation General Directorate (DGAC) officially presented EQUAIR with its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), allowing the airline to launch commercial operations next week. EQUAIR would be the first Latin American startup to begin flying in 2022.
EQUAIR’s new AOC
On Friday, the Ecuadorian civil aviation authorities, led by William Birkett, held an official meeting with EQUAIR’s management. During the event, the DGAC presented EQUAIR’s AOC to the airline’s CEO, Gabriela Sommerfeld. This milestone represents the final step towards EQUAIR’s birth as a new carrier.
Last week, the airline operated a demonstration flight between Quito, Guayaquil, and Baltra (Galápagos Islands). These are three of the four destinations EQUAIR will serve as a carrier. There were inspectors from DGAC during the flight, certifying the startup.
EQUAIR was supposed to start flying on December 22, 2021. Nonetheless, a COVID-19 outbreak among its employees and members from DGAC forced the airline to delay its inaugural flight.
After that setback, EQUAIR is now set to begin flying on January 10.
Arribó al Aeropuerto Ecológico de Baltra, @aerogalapagos el vuelo de demostración de la Aerolínea @equairECU. Cubrió la ruta #Quito – #Guayaquil – #Balta. En el vuelo estuvieron inspectores de la #DGAC y tripulación de la aerolínea. pic.twitter.com/aIadAmaiRL
— DGAC Ecuador (DAC) (@DGAC_Ecuador) January 7, 2022
EQUAIR is increasing its fleet
The new startup plans to operate with a fleet of Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The airline will have two planes to serve the domestic market in Ecuador when it starts flying on January 10.
In mid-December, the airline revealed its first aircraft, registration HC-CXB. It was a Boeing 737-700 Next Generation that previously operated with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines between 2011 and 2021 and was originally ordered by Park Aerospace Holdings, according to ch-aviation. EQUAIR named the aircraft Condor, honoring the endangered American bird.
Earlier this week, EQUAIR received its second aircraft, another B737-700 registration HC-CXC, aptly called Albatros. The waved albatross, also known as Galápagos albatross, is an endemic species on the Ecuadorian and Peruvian coasts.
HC-CXC belongs to Nomura Babcock & Brown, and its managed by lessor BBAM. It had its first flight on March 11, 2011, and was delivered to KLM on March 30, 2011. The European carrier operated the plane until 2021.
Both planes have the capacity to carry 142 passengers in economy seats.
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What can we expect from EQUAIR?
The Ecuadorian startup aims to compete against LATAM, Avianca, and Aeroregional, all of which have domestic flights in Ecuador. EQUAIR will offer lower fares and five different tariffs: promo, economic, flexi, superflexi, and premium, according to its website.
To start, the airline will operate flights between Quito, Guayaquil, Baltra and San Cristobal. The last two destinations are both located in the Galápagos Islands. EQUAIR could add more domestic destinations in the near future, flying to cities like Manta, Cuenca, and El Coca.
Avianca and LATAM are currently offering 2,231 domestic flights in Ecuador, with 328,980 available seats, per Cirium. The route Guayaquil-Quito is Ecuador’s main one, with 817 flights throughout the month. Meanwhile, Guayaquil-Baltra has 138 scheduled flights this month, and San Cristobal-Guayaquil only has 76 flights.
Compared to January 2020 levels (before the COVID-19 pandemic), domestic airlines in Ecuador are operating 26.4% fewer flights and 12.7% fewer seats. The country lost a carrier during the pandemic, TAME. EQUAIR is looking to take its place.
Would you be interested in flying with EQUAIR between Quito, Guayaquil, and the Galápagos Islands? Let us know in the comments below.