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Emirates signs agreement with Ecuadorian government

Dubai: Emirates is expanding its operations into South America following the signing of a cargo and passenger agreement with Ecuadorian national airline TAME.

“We have reached an agreement to work together to move passengers and cargo in those airports where both companies airplanes meet,” said Franciso Rivadeneira, Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Trade.

TAME is owned by the Ecuadorian government.

Under the agreement, Emirates will be able to transfer passenger and cargo to TAME from New York in the United States and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Emirates did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s more like a code-share agreement concerning passenger and cargo operations,” Rivadeneira said.

Rivadeneira was speaking to the media on Monday at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai.

There are currently no direct passenger flights connecting Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates, with the aviation links being traditionally underserved between the Middle East and South America.

Emirates also fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in South America.

Etihad Airways recently signed code-share agreements with Spain’s Air Europa and United States-based JetBlue to connect to destinations in Latin and South America.

Rivadeneira said the New York and Sao Paulo connections could be followed up with Buenos Aires, Chicago and Los Angeles, where the two airlines also fly to.

However, he did not say when the agreement will come into effect but that the long-term objective is to introduce direct flights between the new countries.

“For that we still need to work on demand,” he said.

Prior to speaking with the media, Rivadeneira met with representatives of supermarket chain Carrefour. Rivadeneira said that he is hopeful of exporting Ecuadorian products to the region through a distribution deal with the supermarket.

Rivadeneira is also expected to meet with DP World chairman Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem to discuss the company’s possible involvement in the development of a new deep sea port in Guayaquil, Ecuador,

Rivadeneira said the deep-sea port project will need $6 to $8 billion (Dh22 to Dh29 billion) of investment.

In recent years Ecuador has shifted its focus to the Gulf Arab countries as it looks to find new key exports markets in the fall out of the global financial crisis that hampered traditional markets in North America and Europe.

Ecuador’s regional embassy is in Qatar, however, Rivadeneira said that are steps underway to open a consulate in Dubai.

“We don’t have a date at the moment… but we think we must absolutely do that in the near future,” he said.