Ecuador’s national carrier TAME has made an official application to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign air carrier permit to launch flights between Quito and Fort Lauderdale. The airline currently operates a single route into the United States with a daily link between Guayaquil and New York.
TAME is seeking to launch the new route as soon as possible and plans to offer a daily service using its 145-seat Airbus A319 and 162-seat A320 equipment. It certain circumstances, it says, it may also utilise its larger 278-seat A330s to meet demand. The application also suggests the carrier could increase the frequency of the route in the future subject to market demand.
There are currently no direct services between Ecuador and Fort Lauderdale, although American Airlines and LanEcuador offer flights to Miami from Quito. According to MIDT data, an estimated 422,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between Ecuador and Florida in 2013, up 8.5 per cent on the previous year. This market has been in growth for each of the past ten years with average annual growth rate of 9.8 per cent across the period.
TAME made its US debut in December 2013 when it launched its flights between Guayaquil and New York and this year it has boosted frequencies to a daily operation using its A330s. The carrier also has traffic rights to serve New York from Quito but believes the Fort Lauderdale operation will offer the greater rewards given the reduced sector times and the ability to utilise smaller capacity aircraft on the international route.
In its application to the US DOT, TAME forecasts that it will secure average loads of around 98 passengers per flight (67.6 per cent load factor on the A319 and 60.5 per cent on the A320) and expects return air fares to average at around $661. According to research of MIDT data, the average air fare being charged by American Airlines between Quito and Miami in 2013 was $534, while LanEcuador was charging an average of $744.
In our analysis, below, we look at the growth in demand between Ecuador and Florida over the past ten years.