ALTA: Ecuador's TAME launches Quito-New York

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Launch is imminent for TAME's first service into the USA, as daily flights to New York kick off on 22 November.

"We are finishing off the first phase of our network expansion with the New York route," says Rafael Farias Ponton, chief executive of the Ecuadorian state-owned carrier.

It will fly to New York’s JFK airport from capital Quito with an Airbus A330-200 leased from the manufacturer. In addition to opening competition with LAN on the route, the launch also brings TAME's first operation of a widebody jet.

"Flying to the USA is a big first for TAME, and we hope to open other destinations into the US in the future," says Farias. Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles are all destinations being evaluated, he says.

TAME has been expanding its international network this year with new services to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, and it now serves 15 cities in Ecuador, says Farias.

"Our mandate is to be profitable but the most important thing is to bring connectivity to the country. The government has a very ambitious target to grow tourism next year, and TAME will play an important role in that," explains Farias.

TAME is discussing with its board and Airbus the addition of a further two A330-200s to fuel its expansion.

Its first A330 is an ex-Emirates aircraft, dating from 2002, and is configured with 255 economy and 23 business class seats.

With its ability to haul 12-14t of cargo per trip, the A330 is opening up a new business line for TAME, says Farias. "We can participate in the cargo business for the first time, especially a perishables service," he says.