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ECUADOR - Transport

Frederik Jacobsen

President, Equair

Bio

Frederik Jacobsen is CEO of Equair in Ecuador. He has dedicated more than 35 years of professional experience to commercial aviation. Fred was one of the four founders of low-cost Colombian airline VivaAir and its first president executive. Viva revolutionized and democratized transportation air in Colombia. He has collaborated in different roles within the aviation industry in companies such as ARAJET as CEO, in Tampa Cargo leading the process of restructuring and transformation of the Colombian cargo and started negotiations that led to the sale of this company to Avianca in 2008. Fred is passionate about the airline industry and a firm believer in organizations focused on people, on achieving levels of operational excellence that provide the passenger with a value experience. His career, which began as a traffic agent and flight dispatcher at Lufthansa has a allowed him to get the full cycle comprehension on the flying experience. Fred has a B.S. in Air Transportation Management Technology from the Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT). He attended the Program for CEOs at Northwestern University.

"Equair is committed to making a positive impact on the community, not just by transporting passengers but also by creating a work environment that prioritizes the well-being of its employees and society."
TBY talks to Frederik Jacobsen, President of Equair, about social initiatives, running a “green airline,” and the company’s regional strategy.
Equair participates in different social initiatives. Can you elaborate on this commitment?

Equair is committed to making a positive impact on the community, not just by transporting passengers but also by creating a work environment that prioritizes the well-being of its employees and society. As part of the commitment, Equair participates in various social initiatives, such as contributing to communities affected by diseases such as cancer and creating job opportunities. We recognize the lack of prospects for young people in many Latin American countries and aims to provide opportunities for them to become professionals in the aviation industry. We want to provide opportunities for young students to do internships and eventually to work and grow with the company. When people say Equair is the number-one airline in Ecuador, we do not just want it to be based on the passengers we carry but also the positive impact we have made in the community.

What are the implications of being the first real green airline of Ecuador?

In today’s world, sustainability is crucial for the survival of businesses. Equair’s commitment to sustainability was one of the things that impressed me when I joined the company. In spite of our young age, we are already involved in the carbon-free initiative, and we are working to introduce more modern and more environment-friendly aircraft. Equair also has policies in place to support sustainability. It is impressive that the company has made sustainability a priority from the start, and this will be a solid foundation for our future growth. Equair was founded during the pandemic, and many of our employees joined at a time of chaos and uncertainty. Despite all the challenges, the airline has grown by prioritizing sustainability, quality, and service. As an industry veteran of over 37 years, I recognize that we are in a new world, and what worked in the past may not necessarily work now. Younger generations are looking for more meaningful jobs that allow flexible working arrangements. We must therefore recognize this and adapt company policies accordingly to attract and retain talent. Looking ahead, we must also look at future trends in the sector and how we can build companies that can last the test of time. For example, there is a project underway in Colombia to build a huge airport in Ibagué, with long runways for large international airlines and a big terminal; however, in the next 30-40 years, long runways for large jet planes are likely to become obsolete with new technologies such as drones. Furthermore, airports of the future are likely to have a smaller footprint moving forward. It may seem far away, but the technology is just around the corner. There are already companies building drones that can carry 50 tons or 180-200 passengers that will be able to travel and take off from small ramps. We need to remain open minded and flexible to adapt to such changes moving forward.

How are you trying to reach the new regional approach?

When I joined Equair, the focus was primarily on domestic travel within Ecuador. However, if we want to be an efficient and successful airline, we need to look beyond the country. Ecuador has unique characteristics that make it strategically advantageous for international travel. It is surprising that Ecuador has not built a major international hub sooner. We want to develop a network that is not necessarily the same one that many airlines are flying today; we are looking strategically to connect alternative points. For example, cities like Bucaramanga, in Colombia, require travelers to fly to Bogotá to connect to international flights to Europe and other international destinations. We see great potential to connect such cities. In the longer term, we also see opportunities to connect Ecuador to intermediate cities in the Americas and Europe. Ultimately, passengers do not want to go through a hub and spend three or four hours waiting for a connecting flight.

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