COVID Fears Prompt EQUAIR To Delay Its Inaugural Flight

The Ecuadorian startup EQUAIR has delayed its inaugural flight from December 22 to January 10 due to COVID-19 fears. Yesterday, the airline announced its latest decision after some virus cases across the company and within Ecuador’s Civil Aviation authorities.

EQUAIR will not start operations in 2021. Photo: EQUAIR

A new delay

EQUAIR was supposed to start flying on December 22. The airline has recently received its first two Boeing 737-700 aircraft and was ready to launch its debut flight between Quito and Guayaquil.

Additionally, EQUAIR will fly to Baltra (GPS) and San Cristobal (SCY), the two airports in the Galápagos Islands. Those will be EQUAIR’s four destinations to start with; the startup could add more domestic destinations like Manta, Cuenca, and El Coca in the near future.

Nonetheless, those plans have now been delayed. The airline announced on social media,

“As a consequence of the efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, EQUAIR has decided, along with the Ecuadorian Aeronautical Authority, to suspend the final phase of the airline’s certification. Additionally, we have decided to delay the launch of operations that was set to happen on December 22, 2021, and move it to January 10, 2022.”

Moreover, EQUAIR said that a few members of the airline’s certifying team and employees from the government have had positive COVID-19 tests in the last 48 hours. Therefore, both parties have decided to suspend all activities and push them back to avoid further infections.

What to expect

The airline also announced that it will contact its passengers and find their new flights. It is an unfortunate step for EQUAIR, a carrier willing to launch operations in Ecuador and become the country’s fourth carrier. Currently, LATAM, Avianca, and Aeroregional operate in the South American nation. Last year, Ecuador’s State airline TAME ceased operations.

The new airline will offer low fares and five different tariffs: promo, economic, flexi, superflexi, and premium, according to its website.

So far, EQUAIR has received two aircraft; the latest arrived earlier this week and has not been painted. It plans to start with a fleet of five Boeing 737-700 planes. Each airplane will have a capacity of 142 passengers.

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Zero Latin American startups to close the year

Last week, we ran a story updating on the current status of the Latin American startups that were supposed to start operations in 2021. Following Brazil’s Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos temporary cease of operations, EQUAIR was set to become the only active startup in the region.

But now, EQUAIR has also pushed back its first flight. Therefore, 2021 will close without any Latin American startup in the air.

Next year we could see a few airlines flying for the first time in the region. That will be the case of EQUAIR in Ecuador and Ultra Air in Colombia, two carriers that are in the final steps of their certification processes. Ecuador’s Ecuatoriana Airlines may also launch operations next year, and Brazil’s Nella Airlines has a very ambitious plan for the next couple of years, expanding its reach to several South American countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Paraguay.

The future of Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos remains on hold. It is uncertain when (and if) the airline will fly again.

Are you expecting to travel shortly with EQUAIR? Let us know in the comments below.

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