Ecuador new airport

[Update July 2014 - the road construction to Quito Airport (UIO) is mostly finished and the trip to/from the center is much faster, especially early morning and late night when many flights arrive. We're still baffled though as to why you have to get on a packed shuttle bus to get from the terminal to your plane, in a brand new airport!]

The new airport in Quito, UIO, officially opened February 20 and flights stopped at the previous one the same day.

By most accounts, the new opening was smooth and without major hiccups. The main issue at this point is how long it takes to get to the city on roads that are not up to the increased traffic.

“To facilitate access to the new airport, Quito is building the $48 million La Ruta Viva freeway, which will open in phases by 2014 and aim to reduce the drive time from downtown to the airport to approximately 40 minutes.”

In other words, the airport opened long before the road to the airport was finished. It’s only 24kms from the city, but you’ll have a much shorter trip if you arrive at night–as little as 45 minutes in an official taxi (set fee $26). During the day, it could be three times that long. If you don’t feel like taking a cab, there’s also an $8 shuttle bus to near the previous airport or you can have your hotel or tour company arrange transportation.

This new airport was a necessary step, despite the loss of convenience. The other one was 52 years old, with buildings surrounding it. Some large long-haul jets couldn’t land there, while the new runway is one of the longest on the continent. This should enable more direct flights from Europe.

You’re going to be paying for it though: the departure tax went up $15. That increase should already be in your ticket price if you bought it recently.

If you’re a member of the Priority Pass business lounge membership program, or get it because of your high-end credit card, there’s good news: you’ve got entry to both the domestic and international lounge here. Sign up at Priority Pass if you don’t look forward to regular boarding lounges. Priority Pass – 10% Off

Andean Travel Company has a nice rundown on the new airport with facts and figures. Get it here: Quito Airport fact sheet.

Check out luxury hotels in Quito here.