Quito’s New Airport Opens Tomorrow

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The new Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito.
(Photo courtesy of Andean Travel Company)

Effective Feb. 20, passengers will be taking off from and landing in Quito, Ecuador at the new Mariscal Sucre Airport, located 15 miles northeast of Quito in the Tababela parish. All international and domestic flights will operate from the new facility, which has a 2.55-mile-long runway, plus the latest in navigation systems.

The new airport hugely expands facilities and ground operations 10 times greater than the old airport. The new terminal has 60 counters; 24 immigration counters for arrivals and 12 immigration counters for departures; comfortable gate lounges and waiting areas; six security stations; restaurants and duty-free shops; and a special check-in area for Galapagos Islands-bound visitors.

While all passengers will benefit from coming and going through a more modern and safer facility, the older airport was much closer to Quito and transfers to city hotels faster. Transfers from the new Mariscal Sucre to the city are expected to take 60 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic and road construction, since the express road connecting the airport to the city is currently not finished. Taxi fares one way are expected to be $25 to $30, and express bus service is operating ($8 one-way) between the city terminal and the airport.

The former Quito airport—also named Mariscal Sucre—is scheduled to be turned into a park, with lake areas and a convention center.

Domestic carriers operating from the new Quito airport include AeroGal, LAN Ecuador and Tame; nonstop flights from the U.S. are operated by American Airlines, Delta, LAN, and United Airlines; other international carriers include Avianca, Copa and Taca.

Rail Travel                                       
Meanwhile, on the ground in Ecuador, there will be a new transportation upgrade in rail travel, as the rebuilt track linking sky-high Quito to Guayaquil on the coast is completed, and passengers can once again ride the rails from the top of the Andes to the Pacific Coast. Later this year, Tren Ecuador will debut its Tren Crucero, a vintage-style cruise train made up of four elegant coaches—two for lounging, reading, enjoying board games; another a coffee bar with snacks and local drinks; yet a fourth fitted with panoramic windows and an open terrace—pulled by steam and diesel locomotives and accommodating 54 passengers. The Tren Crucero will offer passengers full-day and one-, two-, and three-night packages as it rolls along the full length of the rail line (288 miles) between Quito and Guayaquil. For instance, the famous Devil’s Nose run occurs between Alausi and Guayaquil, included on a 1- or 2-night package, and includes all meals, sightseeing and overnight accommodations ($ 342 pp dbl); passengers coming aboard for the 4-day, 3-night package—either Quito to Guayaquil or vice versa—will enjoy the whole panorama of Ecuador from mountains to sea, with many choices of overnight stays at inns and resorts along the way.

En-route, passengers will step down in train stations that are attractions in themselves: The train cafe serves up regional specialties prepared mainly by the local communities; the arts & crafts square will promote local craftspeople, and travelers can learn about and buy local products; and the train museum is a place for visitors to learn about railroad construction, operation of locomotives, coaches and wagons, as well as the culture, customs and traditions of each community in which the station is located.

Additionally, travelers on this Quito-Guayaquil trip will overnight along the way at inns and resorts. For more information, visit trenecuador.com/crucero.