A little over a week ago, I arrived in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito to have some dental work done. Anyone leaving for the continent from Santa Cruz Island flies out of the Baltra Island airport via Guayaquil, Ecuador’s economic center and most populated city, to their final destination. TAME (Transportes Aereos Mercantiles Ecuatorianos) and AeroGal (Aerolineas Galapagos SA) are the two continental airlines that fly in and out of Baltra Airport.
In 1970, the first 1500 tourists arrived in Galapagos when TAME began regular flights to Baltra. TAME is based in Quito and was established in 1962 by the Ecuadorian Air Force. It is one of the many businesses run by the Ecuadorian military. AeroGal began operating in 1986 and is based in Guayaquil. I have always flown with TAME. The customer service is very good, the seats spacious and comfortable, and the food is better than what I have experienced on most airlines.
Baltra is a tiny, virtually uninhabited, island located next to the most populated island of Santa Cruz (15,000 + inhabitants). San Cristobal Island also has an airport in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the province of Galapagos. However, most tourists usually arrive at Baltra airport and either board their tour boats from the islands of Baltra or Santa Cruz. Baltra is the primary Galapagos airport and the oldest.
The airport on Baltra was originally built as a United States military airbase during World War II to protect the Panama Canal. In fact, anyone born on Baltra during this time received U.S. and Ecuadorian citizenship. Several months ago, I ran into the first person born on Baltra and he informed me of the benefits of being born there. Today, Baltra is an Ecuadorian military base.