Ecuador's state owned airline TAME has confirmed plans to relaunch its international operations, initially with a route to Bogota in July that may be extended to Caracas in August.
The Airbus A319 operated route from Quito to Bogota will be served with a daily flight starting on 9 July then a month later the airline will add a leg from Bogota to Caracas as an extension of the original route.
TAME's chief executive Rafael Farias says that the launch of these routes respond to one of the government mandates imposed on the airline when it restructured the former Air Force-owned carrier into a fully civilian, public airline: "TAME has been tasked with promoting tourism to Ecuador, and the monopolistic situation of the Bogota market has resulted in exorbitant fares, which are hurting tourism to our country."
Seven of the eight daily flights currently connecting Quito with Bogota are operated by Avianca or its Ecuadorian subsidiary Aerogal, while Copa Colombia operates one flight.
While assuring that TAME will "not start any fare wars," he promises fares of "around $400" for the 90-minute flight.
TAME operated a small network of international flights to Santiago de Chile, Cali, Panama City and Havana about a decade ago but it decided to refocus on the domestic market and renew its fleet with A319, Embraer 170 and ATR 42-500 aircraft during its restructuring.
In addition to the new international destinations, TAME will also launch a new domestic route from Quito to Salinas, a seaside resort on the Pacific coast, in July.