New TAME CEO takes helm as airline transfers to civilian control

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Ecuador's state owned airline TAME has appointed industry veteran Rafael Farias as its new CEO to oversee its transformation into a public company under civilian control after operating decades as the Ecuadorian Air Force's scheduled airline.

Farias previously served in leading positions with airlines like Copa Airlines, Saeta, SBA Airlines and, several years ago, as TAME's Commercial Director. He told FlightglobalPro that his first priority is to convert the airline into a "results driven company, serving its institutional mandates while becoming profitable".

"As a public company, TAME can now basically act like a private company, which has the Ecuadorian state as its sole shareholder", Farias said. "In the short term, my objective is to make the company more efficient and results driven while better serving the customer and the Ecuadorian society. I have started the assessment on how to implement these strategic goals."

"We have the mandate to continue vertebrating the complex Ecuadorian geography with flights on commercially not profitable, but socially necessary routes. On the other hand, we must become facilitators of Ecuador's incoming tourism", he added.

The airline, which operates a young fleet of ATR 42, Embraer 170/190 and Airbus A320 aircraft, will reinforce its regional routes, but also start a new phase of international expansion.

"This year we relaunched our flights to Panama, where we are still fine tuning our potential partnership with Copa, through which we hope to dramatically improve our international connectivity," Farias said, adding that Colombia and Peru are "next on the list" while Miami is also an option after Aerogal of the Avianca-Taca group abandoned the route some time ago to concentrate on serving Avianca's routes.

"Currently, international fares to and from Ecuador are very high, which is a severe limitation to our country's tourism growth. TAME will therefore act as a fare regulator, entering the market with more reasonable fares, although within the threshold of profitability. We are not going to start fare wars", Farias said.