QUITO - Connectivity from the Quito International Airport has been increasing steadily since the resumption of commercial passenger operations on June 1, both in national and international service.
On the domestic front, during the months of June and July, three airlines (Avianca, LATAM and Aeroregional) offered connections with six destinations within the country (Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta, Loja, El Coca and Santa Rosa). For August, two additional destinations were added (Esmeraldas and Galapagos). Consequently, the offer to cover domestic destinations is fulfilled.
International airlines increased from three in June with three destinations (Amsterdam, Miami and Houston), to six in July reaching five destinations (Madrid and Fort Lauderdale were added), and to nine in August with seven destinations (Mexico City and Panama were added, although only for connections).
Andrew O'Brian, President and CEO of Corporacion Quiport, operator and administrator of Quito airport, explained that resuming operations on June 1 allowed to gain fundamental time for the reactivation of connectivity. “Of the airports that stopped operating in Latin America due to the health emergency, the Quito airport was the first to resume national and international operations, implementing strict health protection measures and applying the protocols established by the national Emergency Operations Committee. At that time, the entire region remained expectant about what was happening in Quito”, explained the senior executive.
“The evolution of passenger traffic has also been positive: we started with 20,000 passengers in June, which doubled to 42,000 passengers in July while in August we transported more than 48,000 passengers. Throughout the entire period, between June 1 and September 24, we already surpassed the 166,000-passenger mark,” reported Andrew O'Brian, who nevertheless explained that these numbers are far from those registered before the health emergency.
Indeed, the passengers transported in August 2020 represent only 10% of those registered in the same month of 2019.
According to Mr. O’Brian, this scenario was predictable. “We knew from the beginning that recovering traffic would be a slow process. We trust that the elimination of negative testing requirements for COVID-19 for domestic travel, as well as the elimination of mandatory preventive isolation will serve as catalysts that accelerate the process of passenger growth," he commented. Another factor that will undoubtedly contribute to improving connectivity will be the upcoming resumption of international operations at the Bogota and Lima airports, two of the destinations most in demand by travelers in Quito. By December, according to Quiport projections, 13 airlines will operate at the Quito airport, reaching 10 international destinations. In 2019, 16 airlines flew to 18 international destinations.
On August 27, the Quito International Airport obtained the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) granted by the Airports Council International (ACI). The ACI Airport Health Accreditation is based on the recommendations of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to establish common sanitary measures and is aligned with the best practices of ACI, as well as with the security protocol of aviation developed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The main executive of Corporacion Quiport considered that “the Airport Health Accreditation is not only a one-time processes review, but also commits us to permanently evaluate our procedures and prevention measures in order to improve them, always framed within the recommendations of the bodies that regulate air transport. Our commitment is with health and safety”.
Aspects evaluated in the program include cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (when feasible and practical), protection of airport personnel, physical distribution, communication with passengers, and passenger facilities.
Recovery in export
The evolution of export cargo numbers is clear and very positive. “April was the worst month for cargo exports for Quito airport. There was a -33.5% variation compared to the same month of 2019. Since then the recovery has been constant: in the May comparison the descent was -9%, in June it was -4.7% and by July there was a growth of 1.8% compared to the same month of 2019 and in August the increase was 10.1%”, announced the President of Quiport.
The main product of export by air from Quito are flowers, a productive activity that employs thousands of people in the central northern highlands of the country.
"We hope that by the end of the year we can have more solid passenger traffic figures, which mark a sustained rate of recovery, and which will contribute to productive activities, but especially to tourism. At Quiport, we continue to guarantee sanitary conditions for our travelers and collaborators", Andrew O'Brian concluded.