Airlines cancel flights to Ecuador amid armed conflict and state of emergency

Adam McCullough / / Ron English Twitter

US airlines have decided to cancel flights to and from Ecuador after the country’s president declared a state of emergency due to violence and armed conflict in the area.

So far, four US airlines made the decision to temporarily halt services from the US to Ecuador’s airports: American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.

Airlines like LATAM have extended flexibility for passengers traveling between January 9 and 14, 2024.

The US Bureau of Consular Affairs also announced that the US Embassy and Consulate in Ecuador and Consulate have canceled routine consular appointments until January 12, 2024.

The Bureau also currently classified Ecuador as Level 2, which means those who plan to travel to the country must exercise “increased caution”.

What is happening in Ecuador?

On January 8, 2024, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa, who had been in office for only two months, declared a nationwide state of emergency for a period of 60 days following the escape of high-profile, notorious gang leader Adolfo Macias.

Criminal groups took 130 prison staff hostage, while armed men from gangs stormed a TV station and held journalists at gunpoint during a live broadcast. Both events occurred in Guayaquil, the country’s largest and most crime-ridden city.

Noboa declared war against the gangs, dubbing 22 “terrorist” organizations, making them official military targets.

Some US airline crew remain stranded in Ecuador and a social media user, who identifies himself as a union pilot, shared a text message exchange with a colleague who told him that flight crews at the airport have been kidnapped.

Aviation blog site View From the Wing reported that a JetBlue crewmember claimed the airline is sending guards to sit outside of their hotel rooms in Guayaquil.

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism has recommended that tourists still in the country remain inside their hotels or accommodation until further notice.

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