JUAN CARLOS AGUIRRE
LAN Ecuador began its domestic operations in 2009, marking the beginning of a new era in Ecuadorean aviation. Currently, the business is offering its clients a wide range of rates, punctuality, consistency, and an easy reservations system, where customers can purchase tickets and check in via cutting-edge technology. We have followed through on our promise to provide the Ecuadorean people with a world-class service of the same quality that characterizes LAN Airlines’ companies in Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina. For two consecutive years, we have won the first prize in Quality of Service, awarded by the prestigious EKOS publication. This reflects the high level of satisfaction our customers feel, as the survey was based on their feedback. During our time in the country, we have transported more than 2.3 million passengers, connecting them not only to Ecuador but also to more than 800 destinations in 150 countries, through the airline alliance oneworld. The alliance has also contributed to the positioning of Ecuador as one of the world’s tourism hotspots. Currently, the airline operates 56 weekly services along the route between Quito and Guayaquil, which is the second most important air bridge in the Americas. We also operate nine flights a week between Quito and Cuenca, as well as service to the Galápagos through Baltra or San Cristóbal.
AeroGal is operating through a codeshare with TACA on its routes to Lima and Medellín. With Avianca, AeroGal goes to Bogotá. Previously, those routes were operated strictly by those airlines, but through this synergy, the routes are being operated by AeroGal. This is what you want when you seek alliances; an opportunity to use and create synergies. The aircraft and crew are based in Ecuador, and it was a good opportunity to increase the breadth of our services. Our main operations are domestic, and the Galápagos is our core market. The connections we have to Lima and Bogotá have strengthened that market. Our domestic operations include the coastal cities of Guayaquil and Manta, and cities in the Amazon region such as Lago Agrio and Coca. All the connectivity through Avianca and TACA with hubs in Lima and Bogotá has allowed AeroGal to service more passengers through our domestic market. AeroGal is the strongest operator to the Galápagos. We operate to two locations on the islands, and our main traffic is comprised of foreign visitors. There are also national tourists and the officials living and working on the islands. Our international traffic is made up of Europeans and visitors from the US. Cruise operators have booked entire planes of passengers traveling to the destination, whether they are departing from Guayaquil or Quito, to the Galápagos. Therefore, we are hoping to increase our operations to this popular destination.
We share the market with two direct competitors, and we have more or less one-third of the market each. TAME probably has a bigger share of the total market, because we fly to more destinations, and that’s an important thing about us. Other airlines fly to destinations that will generate profit, which is fair business wise. TAME, however, has a different target—not only economic profitability, but what we call “social profitability.” If we don’t fly to certain airports in Ecuador, nobody will do it, and this would be negative for the economies of those regions. The government has made a huge effort to upgrade the infrastructure of airports, and the social impact of offering air services to more isolated communities is vast. TAME wants to be profitable, but we also need to fulfill a very important role in Ecuador. We want to differentiate TAME so it does not become a commodity producer, especially in important markets. We need to refocus our customer service on certain key routes, such as Guayaquil-Quito, add frequencies, and find ways to satisfy the needs of the business community. We offer some advantages for this segment, such as VIP rooms at airports or other products that are unique to TAME. We want to work on those advantages and give customers what they want. We have people at TAME that are very motivated to do a good job.
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