The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, announced Thursday the opening of the first international route of the General Eloy Alfaro International Airport in the coastal city of Manta, the western province of Manabí, rebuilt by a consortium of Chinese companies and reopened last Dec. 5.
This direct route between Manta and Panama will start operations as of Jun. 27, with three weekly flights through Copa Airlines, said Lasso in an official act at the air terminal.
The president said that this route opens a range of opportunities for Ecuador, especially for Manta, one of the most important cities in business and tourism on the Ecuadorian Pacific coast.
“This is a milestone for 1,350,000 Manabitas who will benefit directly and for thousands of local and provincial businesses because air transportation is a great dynamic of economic development,” he said.
He added that “with these flights, tourism and foreign trade are promoted, and employment is generated in different areas”, after recalling that in the reconstruction of the airport, nine out of ten workers were Manabitans.
The airport was rebuilt with the support of the Chinese Government and the Export-Import Bank of China (China EximBank) through concessional credits after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake damaged the previous infrastructure on Apr. 16, 2016, on the north coast of the South American country.
Panama is the first international route to operate at this airport since 2016.
This route will link the Andean country with Central America and the world, directly connecting to 75 destinations in the Americas and through Panama airport, a regional hub, connecting to all global destinations.
According to Lasso, Manta thus joins Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador’s main cities, in terms of international connections so that the inhabitants of Manta and the province of Manabí can take flights abroad without wasting time and money.
He also mentioned that in 2021 Manta received more than 20,000 foreign tourists and 665,000 nationals in 2022, more than 39,000 foreigners and more than one million national tourists arrived.
“Rest assured that in 2023 these numbers, especially with the flight to Panama, will increase significantly,” predicted the president.
In turn, the Minister of Tourism, Niels Olsen, highlighted the actions taken to improve Ecuador’s connectivity, such as the elimination in September 2021 of the 5 percent tax on foreign currency outflows to foreign airlines to improve competitiveness and connectivity.
“We have recovered around 81 percent of international connectivity, above the recovery of the region, which places our country in a quite advantageous position,” he said.