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Quito, Ecuador’s New Airport Opens February 2013

by Todd Smith

UPDATE February 26, 2013

The new Quito airport at Tababela (still named Mariscal Sucre International Airport) is open as of February 20, 2013. With this opening, Quito now has a Category B airport to match other important cities in the world, including Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and New York. The new Mariscal Sucre will improve Ecuador’s connectivity to the world, with new direct flights to New York, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires (with TAME). The new airport is located 23 miles from the city center and has received IATA’S B category grading. Capable of servicing up to six million passengers annually. The airport’s national and international terminals cover a 409,029 sq ft area and will have a 9,687 sq ft duty-free store, more than 20 commercial stores and a new shopping center to be inaugurated mid 2013.

Built at 7,874 ft above sea level and on the city outskirts, Quito’s new international airport will drive passenger influx by providing a modern and safer hub for all incoming flights. Among the highlights of the new facility are: 60 check-in counters, plus a special area for Galápagos check-in, 20 immigration counters for arrivals, 14 immigration counters for departures and 45 parking places for aircraft. Both the new airport infrastructure and its extensive staff will help process departures and arrivals in a more efficient manner, cutting down travel time for both domestic and international passengers.

Quito Airport Arrival & Departure

The best lodging alternative remains at the current hotels located in the north, commercial area of Quito. The estimated time from hotels´ area to the airport is 1 hour 30 minutes for early morning or night flights; during peak hours it will take up to 2 hours.  There are currently 2 ways to get to the airport: Vía Interoceánica, about 15 miles, and E35, which has less traffic, but the distance is around 30 miles.

In order to facilitate access to its new airport and make the city’s transit more fluid, Quito is in the midst of building a new freeway named La Ruta Viva. Set to open in phases, with portions already operating since last year, this new road is expected to enable travelers to reach downtown Quito from the airport and vice versa within about 30-40 minutes as well as help reduce traffic by 50% in the greater Quito area. With a total investment of $48 million USD the entire highway is projected to be completed by 2014.

Guests booking a Galapagos cruise with AdventureSmith receive airport/hotel transfers; private transfers are available upon request. AdventureSmith Explorations recommends that travelers heading to the Galapagos Islands who want the fastest, least expensive travel option route through the Guayaquil airport instead of Quito (see AdventureSmith’s Guayaquil and Quito Galapagos Cruise Packages). Though the historical importance and value of visiting Quito is definitely worth the cost if you have time to spend in the city before or after your Galapagos cruise.

New Quito airport map, courtesy Kleintours

New Quito airport map, courtesy Kleintours

UPDATE August 24, 2012

The opening of Quito’s new airport in Tababela,  18 km (11 miles) to the northeast of Quito, which was expected to be operational by October 12th, has been pushed to February 20, 2013.

Representatives of various sectors and airline companies requested that the mayor of the city postpone operations due to logistical concerns during the transition process coupled with the airport’s unfinished access roads.  The new Collas-Tababela highway, which will be the main feeder road, is only 20% complete. The work to improve and speed up the Inter-Oceánica highway through Cumbayá and Tumbaco, the current main route, will not be completed by October.

Heeding these calls, the Mayor and City Council have set the new date for the commencement of operations for February 20, 2013, although the construction phase of the new airport will be finished on October 12th.

The airport at Tababela changes the face of air travel in Ecuador’s capital, with its advanced navigation systems and instrumentation, as well as a much longer runway.  At 4.1 kilometres-long (2.55 miles), it’s one of the longest in the world, and a full kilometer (0.6 miles) longer than the current strip. Its construction is 98% complete.

When complete, the new airport will feature a 38,000 sq m terminal with a 41m high control tower, the tallest in South America, and a 4,100m runway able to facilitate travel to and from more distant cities including Madrid and Amsterdam. On July 2, 2012, an American Airlines Boeing 757 test flight was successful from Mariscal Sucre. Onboard were numerous aviation and media representatives along with Mayor Barrera.

Currently there is concern about a tariff hike at the new airport, which will see a 59% increase for domestic services and a 2.58% increase for international services. The new airport will charge passengers the equivalent of $7.50 for domestic services and $33.75 for international services. Mariscal Sucre’s current domestic tariff is $4.70/domestic and $32.90/international. UPDATE 2/11/13: The new Quito Airport taxes are $8.17 for round-trip domestic flights, and $15.86 for international flights per person, effective February 20, 2013.

Quito airport name to remain the same: Despite a contest to rename Mariscal Sucre International Airport once it’s relocated to Tababela resulting in Mitad del Mundo International Airport (‘Middle of the World’) being the favorite, a July 2012 presidential decision indicated that Mariscal Sucre will remain the name of the new airport.

- Compiled from various sources, including Metropolitan Touring, Galapagos Network, Kleintours, Quito Turismo, Quasar Expeditions and CAPA Centre for Aviation.

ORIGINAL POST from March 13, 2012

Quito, Ecuador’s new international airport, Mitad Del Mundo,  is expected to be operational and open by October 2012.  The new airport is located in the Tababaela Valley, about 11 miles northeast of Quito.  Quito is the most popular arrival point for travelers proceeding to the Galapagos Islands.

The new Mitad del Mundo airport began construction in 2006 and will replace Mariscal Sucre International Airport.  Located within the cities limits the current airport has a short runway and no space to expand.  Originally built in 1960 Mariscal Sucre has been enveloped by the expanding city of Quito.

The new airport is being built on a large, 1,500-hectare site (3,700 acres, ten times larger). Its runway will be 4 km (2.5 miles)-long, able to receive larger planes and provide better connectivity for the Ecuadorian capital. The terminal building will have a floor space of 38,900 m2 on four levels, 6 jetways and 60 counters.

Due to the new airport’s location further from Quito’s central hotels than the present one, travelers can expect to pay more (up to three times as much)  for taxi’s and transfers to and from Quito’s hotels.

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