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national Flights
Transport in Ecuador

What airlines operate national flights in Ecuador?

Four airlines currently cover national routes:

Tame (Transportes Aéreos Militares Ecuatorianos) is a state company which was set up by the air force in 1962. It offers passenger, cargo and charter flights. It serves the most destinations, partly because it has a responsibility to connect more isolated parts of the country (hence recent new routes to the Amazon and the northern and southern borders). The website is www.tame.com.ec and is rubbish.

Aerogal (Aerolíneas Galápagos) was founded in 1985, to offer flights between the Galápagos and the mainland. It is now owned by Avianca – Taca and serves a number of destinations transporting cargo and passengers. The website is www.aerogal.com.ec and is rubbish.

Lan Ecuador (Línea Aérea Nacional) was created by the Chilean company in 2002 to operate international flights in 2003. In 2009 it started to compete on popular national routes, offering competitive prices and punctuality. Their website is good www.lan.com

Saereo (Servicios Aéreos Ejecutivo) has existed since 2005 mainly providing specialized flight services. Recently it has started to offer more regular passenger flights, focusing on connecting the big cities with smaller local airports. Website looks fine but as of April 2012 it needs updating. www.saereo.com.ec

The national flights market in Ecuador seems pretty fluid. Airlines come and go (Air Cuenca and Icaro have recently gone) and timetables change continually as they seek to remain competitive.

Who flies where?



Quito (UIO) – Guayaquil (GYE)

TAME, Aerogal, LAN

Quito (UIO) – COCA (OCC) TAME, Aerogal

Quito (UIO) – Cuenca (CUE)

TAME, Aerogal, LAN

Quito (UIO) – Galapagos (Baltra) (GPS)

TAME, Aerogal

Quito (UIO) – Galapagos (San Cristobal) (SCY) 

TAME, Aerogal

Quito (UIO) – Esmeraldas (ESM)



Quito (UIO) – Coca (OCC)   

TAME, Aerogal

Quito (UIO) – Loja (LOH)



Quito (UIO) – Santa Rosa (near Machala


Quito (UIO) – Manta (MEC)


Quito (UIO) – Portoviejo (PVO)


Guayaquil (GYE) - Cuenca (CUE)

TAME, Aerogal, LAN

Guayaquil (GYE) - Galapagos (Baltra) (GPS) 

TAME, Aerogal

Guayaquil (GYE) – Galapagos (San Cristobal) (SCY) 

TAME, Aerogal

Guayaquil (GYE) - Esmeraldas (ESM)            


Guayaquil (GYE) – Loja (LOH)


There are also a number of air charter companies. Emetebe operate passenger and cargo flights between the Galápagos islands. Endecots (http://www.endecots.com) is a Guayaquil based company with a fleet capable of carrying up to 6 passengers to about 50 destinations in Ecuador including airfields in the Amazon region.

What are flight prices and reliability like?

The airlines all have fairly modern fleets. Accidents seem to be more related to weather and the short runway in Quito. Actually the frequency of planes (and not only of the national airlines) overshooting or skidding off the runway in Quito is a bit worrying. Hopefully things will improve with the new airport.

Punctuality is a bit of a problem. Recent statistics show that Lan and Aerogal have the best punctuality and Tame and Saereo the worst. The latter seem to cancel a lot.One problem is weather, especially in the mountains with rain, cloud and the odd volcanic ash cloud. Another is that the airlines are operating with small fleets and if one needs maintenance work then it can affect all airline operations (that must have something to do with bad planning as well).

Prices for national flights were pretty cheap ( although foreigners always had to pay more to fly to the Galapágos. Until recently you could get a flight between Quito and Guayaquil for under $50. On January 1 2012 the government eliminated a subsidy on jet fuel for airlines operating national flights. Airlines previously paid 1.25 US dollars in Ecuador. The government stated that the international cost was 3.30 US dollars and they would save about 85 million US dollars annually. A 40% subsidy on fuel remains in place in the Galápagos Islands airports as it does on all the local airports which are under government control (ie. everywhere except Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca).

As a result all airlines increased fares and then in response to falling passenger numbers announced cutbacks in staff and route frequencies. The president basically ordered Tame to lower their prices again and reminded them who had paid for their planes – one of the joys of being a state company.

Compensation for Delays and Cancellations

In March 2012 the Ecuadorian Civil Aviation Authority ( la Dirección General de Aviación Civil – DGAC) approved new regulations under which the airlines will have to compensate passengers for delays (including transfer flights), cancellations and overbooking when they are at fault.

If the flight is delayed between 1 and 3 hours you get a drink and a 3 minute phone call.

If the delay is over 3 hours you get food and get a 10% refund of the flight cost.

If the delay is over 4 hours you get a 25% refund + you can get accommodation, transfer costs or a full refund on your ticket.

If the flight is cancelled your accommodation and transfer costs are paid.

If a flight is overbooked the airline has to get you on their next flight or that of another airline and you get a 25% refund.

You can find up to date statistics regarding punctuality and all the regulations regarding passenger rights on the DGAC website http://www.dgac.gob.ec . Spanish only.


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