Monday, December 30, 2013

Will Manta Be Ecuador's Third International Airport? - December 30, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Will Manta Be Ecuador's Third International Airport?

Reports pop up periodically, mostly on websites and blogs aimed at potential expats, that Ecuador is about to designate Manta as its third international airport, after Quito and Guayaquil. A few years ago, a popular move-overseas site tipped off its readers to a screaming real estate deal; buy property around the Manta airport quickly, it advised, before flights from Miami and Houston start arriving. Recently, another site pushing a Manta real estate development noted that new international flights were sure to make property prices soar.

What's the real story? We talked to an official at Ecuador's Dirección General de Aviación Civil to find out.

Ecuador actually has 11 airports with international designations, the official pointed out. Beside Quito and Guayaquil, airports in Cuenca, Manta, Santa Rosa (Machala), Salinas and Baltra (Galapagos) and five others, are classified as international. The international tag, he said, simply amounts to planning for the future and does not mean flights from the U.S. and Argentina are imminent. In fact, he says, it will probably be years before Ecuador needs another international passenger airport and, when it does, Cuenca would probably be the top choice based on demand.

He added: "Manta is already an international cargo airport and we expect it to grow in this capacity. As far as passenger service goes, Manta is the seventh or eighth largest city in Ecuador so there is minimal demand for international service."

For the record, the official said that the top five airports in Ecuador based on passenger traffic are (in order): Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Baltra and Manta.

Although Ecuador has managed to keep most of the drug trade outside of its borders, there are increasing signs that it is making inroads along its northern border with Colombia and on the Pacific coast.

The dreaded Mexican drug cartels have allied with former paramilitaries and guerrillas in Colombia and frequently encroach across the border into Ecuador. Although the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) officially claims that it is not involved in the drug trade, overwhelming evidence suggests it is, mostly for the purpose of financing its military activity. In many cases, it appears that drug cartels have joined forces with FARC and use remote northern Ecuadorian jungle areas as drug collection and distribution more:

Editor's note: Adapting to life in Ecuador is an on-going topic of conversation among North American expats. Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo turns the tables and tells the story of being an Ecuadorian living in the Middle East and the U.S. She is a native of Cuenca and the author of a novel, Días de Arena y Dátiles and a collection of short stories, Muros de Papel: Cuentos. 
By Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

I have been an expat for the last 10 years of my life.

This may not seem remarkable to many people in Cuenca, a city with thousands of North American and European expats. My story, however, has a different twist.

I am a Cuencana. I was born and raised here and my family continues to live here.  I married a gringo from Florida who came to Cuenca to teach English and then moved with him, 10 years ago, when his work took him to the Middle East. Later, we lived in the U.S., in New York and Colorado, before moving back to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

I would like to share with you my perspective on the expat life and how I have changed by being exposed to new more:

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