Airline Startup Of The Week: Galapagos Airways

Following the cease of operations of TAME, there are two new airline startups in Ecuador. One is Ecuatoriana Airlines, the revival of the former State carrier (and well-known brand) Ecuatoriana Airlines. The second one is Galapagos Airways, a regional carrier that aims to fly to the iconic archipelago. Let’s investigate further.

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Isla Baltra, airplane with land iguana
Ecuador will have a new carrier called Galapagos Airways. The airline aims to take the spot left by TAME (in the background) across the country and serve the Galapagos archipelago. Photo: Getty Images

What do we know about Galapagos Airways?

According to a list of Ecuadorian companies, the idea of Galapagos Airways was born in 2018. Nevertheless, according to local media outlet reports, the company still has to obtain an Air Operator Certificate. Unlike Ecuatoriana Airlines, it seems like Galapagos Airways is still a long way to go before it actually flies.

Still, the new startup already has earned up to 10 domestic routes, as reported by journalist Nicolás Larenas.

Earlier this year, the Galapagos province government announced the first approved routes for this startup.

Galapagos Airways filed to operate three routes. These are:

  1. Quito or Guayaquil-Baltra-Guayaquil or Quito. It would have four weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
  2. Guayaquil-Isabela-Guayaquil. Up to three frequencies per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
  3. Quito or Guayaquil-San Cristobal-Guayaquil or Quito. Four flights per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Last week, we learned more about Galapagos’ additional routes. These are:

  1. Quito-Loja-Quito
  2. Quito-Santa Rosa-Quito
  3. Quito-Guayaquil-Quito.
  4. Quito-Coca-Quito
  5. Quito-Manta-Quito
  6. Quito-Cuenca-Quito
  7. Guayaquil-Cuenca-Quito.
This photo shows Seymour International Airport, the largest hub in the Galapagos. Photo: Getty Images

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What about the fleet?

Unlike what the name suggests, Galapagos Airways wouldn’t have its base of operations in the Galapagos archipelago. The two primary hubs are Seymour Airport (GPS), serving the island of Baltra, and San Cristobal Airport (SCY) on the same-named island.

Instead, the new startup will be based on Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito (UIO).

From there, Galapagos Airways intends to serve the Ecuadorian domestic markets. Its plans include the Galapagos, something that startup rival Ecuatoriana Airlines is not thinking about at the moment.

According to local media outlets, Galapagos Airways plans to start operation with a fleet of either Boeing 737 NG or Embraer E190 aircraft.

How’s the current connectivity to the Galapagos?

In July, two airlines have scheduled 304 flights to and from the Galapagos archipelago. Avianca Ecuador operates three routes, two from GPS to Guayaquil and Quito and one from SCY to Guayaquil.

Meanwhile, LATAM Ecuador operates two routes from Guayaquil to each of the airports in the archipelago. Between both carriers, they offer nearly 41,000 seats using A320 and A319 aircraft.

The connectivity to the Galapagos is still 43.5% below its pre-pandemic numbers, according to the Cirium database.

ITA Transportes Aereos
There are approximately 10 airline startups in Latin America. Currently, Ita Transportes Aereos is the only one that has launched operations. Photo: ITA Transportes Aereos.

Latin American startup boom

According to CAPA, worldwide, there has been a boom in airline startups. The consultancy group has recently said that approximately 42 new carriers intend to fly in the next few months. Some already have, like PLAY in Iceland.

Latin America and the Caribbean will have eight new carriers, according to CAPA. Curiously enough, CAPA does not consider Galapagos Airways or VLU, a leisure-oriented airline operating out of Toluca International Airport, near Mexico City. So, according to us there are ten regional startups.

These are the new carriers willing to fly in Latin America and the Caribbean:

  1. ITA Transportes Aéreos in Brazil. This airline has already begun operations.
  2. Ecuatoriana Airlines in Ecuador.
  3. FLY-CD in Bonaire.
  4. Flycana in the Dominican Republic
  5. Aeroperu in Peru
  6. AVA Airways in Curazao
  7. Nella Airlines in Brazil.
  8. Ultra Air in Colombia. Read the latest on this low-cost startup here.

Are you excited about Galapagos Airways? Let us know in the comments below.