Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced that Quito’s new international airport, Mariscal Antonio Jose de Sucre, will begin operations today. All operations at Quito’s current airport, which operates under the same name, ceased on February 19 at 7:00 PM and resume at the new location.

Built east of Quito in the Tababela valley, the new airport is located 23 miles from the city center and has received IATA’S B category grading. Capable of servicing up to six million passengers annually; the airport’s national and international terminals cover 409,029 square feet and will have a 9,687-square-foot duty free store, more than 20 commercial stores and a new shopping center to be inaugurated mid 2013.

Featuring one of the biggest landing strips in South America at 13,451 feet, the airport can service higher capacity aircrafts from destinations all over the world. Tame, one of Ecuador’s national airlines, has announced that it will offer direct flights to Buenos Aires and New York later this year, while KLM will fly nonstop to Amsterdam and Iberia will operate its Airbus 340-600 from Madrid to Quito.

Built at 7,874 feet above sea level and on the city outskirts, Quito’s new international airport will drive passenger influx by providing a modern and safer hub for all incoming flights. Among the highlights of the new facility are: 60 check-in counters, plus a special area for Galápagos check-in, 20 immigration counters for arrivals, 14 immigration counters for departures and 45 parking places for aircraft. Both the new airport infrastructure and its extensive staff will help process departures and arrivals in a more efficient manner, cutting down travel time for both domestic and international passengers.

In order to facilitate access to its new airport and make the city’s transit more fluid, Quito is in the midst of building a new freeway named ‘La Ruta Viva’. Set to open in phases, with portions already operating since last year, this new road is expected to enable travelers to reach downtown Quito from the airport and vice versa within about 30-40 minutes as well as help reduce traffic by 50% in the greater Quito area. With a total investment of $48 million USD the entire highway is projected to be completed by 2014.