Ecuador's TAME eyes US, Argentina flights

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Ecuadorian state-owned carrier TAME plans to launch its first medium-haul routes to Buenos Aires and New York in 2013 while consolidating its regional presence.

TAME CEO Rafael Farias tells Flightglobal at the sidelines of the CILA airline conference in Miami that its international expansion is proving highly successful.

"We are now operating daily to Bogota and Panama and converted our charter flights to Havana into two weekly regular flights", he says, adding that TAME's entry into the Bogota market has led to fares falling by about 50%.

"As a government owned company we have the mandate to serve the Ecuadorian interior, but also to make Ecuador more accessible and competitive in the context of international tourism. For us the route to Bogota is very profitable, and at the same time we were able to break the Avianca monopoly on the route, which had maintained incredibly high fares", he says.

The carrier will launch a daily flight to Caracas next week as an extension of its Bogota route, and will start flying to Lima daily in November, adds Farias.

In early 2013, TAME plans to extend the Lima route to Buenos Aires. "We received local traffic rights between Peru and Argentina, so this is something we are going to do as soon as we consolidate the operation from Quito and Guayaquil to Lima," he says.

Other destinations planned for 2013 are New York and, eventually, Sao Paulo. All medium haul routes will be operated with Airbus A319/320 aircraft.