Ecuador is becoming increasingly popular with carriers.

Airfreight wholesaler Solent launched a flight between Quito and Miami in July, swiftly followed by Kalitta Air in September. And now Amerijet wants to renew its right to fly there.

“Amerijet is not currently serving Ecuador,” it said in its filing to the Department of Transport this month.

“It requests renewal of this exemption authority so it may promptly commence service when market conditions permit.”

While “market conditions” may not be beneficial while two other freighter operators are on the route, Latin America has always been Amerijet’s playground and, despite it now looking further afield, it has no intention of leaving the market.

“We think there is 50% more growth potential in Latin America,” said CEO Tim Strauss in Miami at Tiaca’s ACF. “It will take some finessing, but there are some interesting plays to come.”

Only five of Amerijet’s 22 operated aircraft fly there.  Most of the aircraft are currently flown under ACMI and CMI contracts, explained Mr Strauss.

“Three years ago, 95% of our business was our scheduled network. Now it’s only about 45%. Scheduled services are really a retail business.”

Mr Strauss says he wants Amerijet to be a partner of other carriers as much as a competitor.

“Airlines likes Atlas and ATSG are both competitors and collaborators. We’d be delighted to feed into other people’s networks, and vice versa.

“Diversifying is a model that works. We have no aspiration to become an Atlas, but we do want to diversify.”

Its hub and spoke operation between Miami and Latin America “doesn’t connect anywhere else”, but Amerijet is now looking at “strategic locations” in the US.

“The next natural flow for us is the Midwest,” added Mr Strauss.

But Amerijet is also now flying to the Far East. At the end of October, it began a service for Maersk Air Cargo between Greenville-Spartanburg and Seoul, with the first of three 767Fs which are on their way.

“We have lots of long-term contracts with other carriers and customers, so we are not as affected by the downturn in retail as we could be. We are nimble, but it doesn’t take much to move the needle. But we are in the spot we need to be in, although there will be some uncomfortable days.”

The airline is also growing, with staff numbers rising from 650 to 1,000. But plans have altered slightly following the market downturn.

“It’s so hard to take cost out of an airline,” explained Mr Strauss, “we had planned to grow very significantly, but we are changing our plans.”

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