As of Tuesday, March 17 to Sunday, March 22, a total of 14 humanitarian flights carrying passengers abroad will have departed from the Quito International Airport, allowing the repatriation of nearly three thousand people, most of them European citizens or residents.
Including this evening’s airlifts, KLM will have carried out 4 humanitarian flights (to Amsterdam); Air France: 3 (Paris); Iberia: 2 (Madrid); Avianca: 2 (Bogota); Copa: 1 (Panama City); Aeroregional: 1 (Toluca, Mexico) and Tame: 1 (Fort Lauderdale, United States). A second flight from Tame is scheduled to depart for Fort Lauderdale in the early hours of Monday, March 23.
Passenger operations are interrupted, with the exception of international passenger departure flights that are permitted for humanitarian reasons such as repatriation. These aircraft arrive at the Quito airport empty, which is known in the industry as a “ferry operation”, they board passengers at the airport terminal and leave the city. It is important to remember that Air cargo operations are allowed.
Andrew O’Brian, President and CEO of Quiport, explained that it is vitally important to keep the airport open and allow humanitarian flights. “There are people at the airport working diligently so that foreigners who need to travel to their countries can do so. We are taking all security measures for everyone who is working at the airport. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s work, because they are doing it in good spirits, understanding that there is a very powerful human factor behind: allowing foreigners in Ecuador to get back home."
Airline crews that, in compliance with international regulations on the maximum time that they can pilot an aircraft, must stay overnight in the country to rest, the Ecuadorian General Directorate of Civil Aviation issued a security protocol that is observed and complied with by all the airmen. The protocol includes medical checks and measures of social distancing.
Due to the drastic decrease in flights, some 50 people from the airlines that operate humanitarian flights currently work in the passenger terminal, plus aviation security in charge of the Metropolitan Public Company of Airport Services, Migration, General Directorate of Civil Aviation, private security, cleaning and Quiport Operations personnel. All the people who must continue working in the passenger terminal have the appropriate protections such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer available at all times.