Spirit in holding pattern for Ecuador flights

Washington DC
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Spirit Airlines is waiting for more ideal flight slots at Bogota airport in Colombia before it launches service to Ecuador, which it gained rights for years ago.

The low-cost carrier won approvals in 2011 to operate one-stop service from Fort Lauderdale to Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador, connecting through Bogota. But it has yet to begin those flights because the available slots at Bogota airport are not during times that will be convenient for passengers to connect, Spirit's chief executive Ben Baldanza tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit in Washington DC.

Baldanza says Spirit is in talks with Colombian authorities to attain better slots, but acknowledges that launching Ecuador service is not a high priority of the airline right now.

Spirit could opt to serve Ecuador non-stop from Fort Lauderdale, but the carrier would like to take advantage of the local traffic rights it has with the one-stop service through Bogota, says Baldanza.

Spirit inherited the local traffic rights that were previously dormant US authorisations, says Baldanza. The carrier serves four cities in Colombia and Lima in Peru, as well as several cities in Central America.