Airports are more than just vital parts of the global transport system, linking communities and businesses with the world – they are important employers and catalysts to skills development in their own right.

Ecuador’s New Quito International Airport, which opened in February 2013, has become one of the country’s most important infrastructure projects in terms of technological development, economic growth and employment generation. Recent estimates suggest it has generated around $1 billion in economic activity for the country and currently employs about 6,000 people across the different companies directly related to airport activity.

Ecuador is one the largest flower exporters in the world and there are about 560 flower-growing farms around Quito aiming to sell their produce to the world market. During the peak flower-producing season of San Valentine in February 2014 there was an increase of 23.7% in air cargo throughput over 2013 as a result of new, larger aircraft being able to access the airport.

During construction between 2006 and 2012, around 4,000 Ecuadorian workers and 120 local companies were contracted. The airport management company, as part of its development plan, launched a series of scholarship programmes, including the David Cachago Scholarship award which has seen 358 educational scholarships given to vulnerable young people. It has also formed new links with local businesses. These include helping Pimienta Gourmet – a small enterprise formed by local women – offer catering services to companies based at the airport, and setting up a database of local workers and small companies whose services could be needed by businesses based at the airport.