TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: AeroGal

Photo provided by Pawel Kierzkowski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

AeroGal, formed under the original name of Aerolíneas Galapagos S.A., started service in 1986 with the goal of flying throughout the Galapagos Islands. The airline started with two Dornier DO-28s while also flying charter flights in Eastern Ecuador. Through the rest of the 1980s, the carrier expanded its Ecuadorian presence allowing for flights to Quito and Guayaquil on Fokker F27s. The carrier would stabilize through the 1990s, focusing on flying domestically in Ecuador with an emphasis on the Galapagos Islands.

However, as the 2000s started and the carrier started to rapidly expand, the carrier received the Boeing 737-200 as a way increase the service on their popular Quito-Guayaquil route. The carrier would receive 4 more Boeing 737-200s before 2004 to supplement their fleet and increase service to their domestic network. The arrival of the Boeing 737 allowed the airline to retire the Fokker F27 from the fleet, making AeroGal an all jet airline. This expansion of the fleet allowed for the airline to compete with the slow collapse of Ecuadorian flag carrier Ecuatoriana de Aviacion, who would go bankrupt in 2005, and TAME. The new AeroGal had marketed itself as a private airline and a cheaper alternate to the government backed TAME.

The airline started international service two years later, with service to Bogota and Medellin, Colombia. From there the airline launched a large international presence to compete with TAME. Flights to Panama City (Panama), Cali (Colombia), and Lima (Peru) were started within the next two years. Flights to Aruba and Curacao were quickly added but were dropped due to a lack of interest after launch. The pinnacle of AeroGal’s service came one year later, when the carrier announced service to Miami and a year later started flights to New York-JFK. Flights to North America were flown on Boeing 757s and 767s, which were added to the fleet specifically for those two routes.

Starting in 2009, LAN’s Ecuadorian branch received the greenlight to started domestic flights thoughout Ecuador utilizing Airbus A318s. The airline applied extra pressure on TAME and AeroGal who immediately looked for alliances and financial backing to make sure they could compete with their two rival carriers. For TAME and LAN, the financial aid came easy since TAME was mostly owned by the Ecuadorian government and LAN had the financial backing of the LAN Airlines Group. This left AeroGal as the odd man out, and with AviancaTaca Group looking for a stronger presence in upper South America, the conglomerate placed a bid for TACA to take over the Ecuadorian carrier. AeroGal agreed to the takeover, officially becoming part of the AviancaTaca Group in October 2009.

As part of the AviancaTaca Group, the carrier went through a fleet renovation. The Boeing 737s were retired in favor of newer Airbus A319s and A320s. AeroGal’s route map was condensed to allow the carrier to connect passengers through the AviancaTaca Group hubs in Colombia and El Salvador. Due to a lack of popularity, AeroGal suspended service to North America and retired the Boeing 767s. The carrier maintained their AeroGal logo and colors through all of this, with Avianca, TACA and AeroGal still operating as individual carriers.

This deal lasted until 2013, when the AviancaTaca Group decided to merge all the airlines into the same name. It was agreed that TACA and AeroGal would be merged into Avianca, with the two carriers becoming subsidies of the airline under the Avianca name. On June 18, 2014, TACA and AeroGal’s names were simultaneously retired, with TACA becoming Avianca El Salvador and AeroGal becoming Avianca Ecuador. The carrier’s Airbus fleet was repainted into the standard Avianca livery and AeroGal logos were replaced, ending the carrier after 28 years of service.

Ian McMurtry

Ian McMurtry

Ian has been an avgeek since 2004 when he started spotting US Airways Express planes at Johnstown Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He now lives in Wichita and enjoys spotting planes in Kansas City and Wichita as well as those flying at high altitudes over his home. He is a pilot with more than 40 hours of experience behind a Cessna 172, Diamond DA-20, and Piper PA-28. He flies Southwest Airlines on most of his domestic flights and Icelandair when flying to Europe. Ian’s route map spans from Iceland and Alaska in the north to St. Maarten in the south. He is a student at Wichita State University, where he will study aerospace and mechanical engineering.
Ian McMurtry