Airlines Continue To Spread Wings Over Mexico

Expanded schedules and new routes respond to rising demand

By: Dawna L. Robertson

Mexico’s airlines are listening. Carriers are responding to increasing United States and Canadian demand for service by widening options to the country’s many destinations, therefore contributing to the potential boost in international tourist arrivals.

During the past six months, a mix of major airlines and low-cost carriers in the U.S. and Canada have enhanced service schedules to various regions of Mexico through additional frequencies of existing routes and the launch of new services.

“That airlines across the board are increasing flight options to Mexico demonstrates the high degree of confidence the travel industry has in our country, and the interest travelers have in discovering Mexico for themselves,” commented Magdalena Carral, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board.

“Mexicans are known around the world for their warmth and hospitality, and North American travelers will be welcomed with open arms,” she added.

Expansion of air transportation inbound to Mexico is aligned with the goal of the Mexican government’s comprehensive, long-term tourism plan to increase the number of international visitors. With 21.9 million visitors in 2005, the country is ranked seventh as an international tourism destination, according to World Tourism Organization figures released in June 2006.

Among the airlines increasing flights is Delta Air Lines ( In recent months, the Atlanta-based carrier initiated new nonstop service to Acapulco, Merida and Ixtapa from Atlanta; Mazatlan from Salt Lake City; and both Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Delta’s continued expansion will include the launch of nonstop service between Atlanta and Leon/Guanajuato, effective Dec. 1, as well as to add a second daily roundtrip flight between JFK and Mexico City effective Dec. 15. From the West Coast, Delta will offer Los Angeles travelers to Mexico the advantage of nine new nonstop flights starting Dec. 15.

Frontier Airlines ( has announced plans to launch roundtrip service between Denver and Guadalajara, marking the eighth Mexican city to be served by Frontier. Slated to begin Dec. 22, the four weekly flights are part of the Denver-based carrier’s plans to increase its Mexican service by 30 percent during the peak winter holiday season.

The carrier will add flight frequencies from Denver to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Frontier will also initiate weekly nonstop service between San Diego and Cancun on Dec. 16.

Adding three new Mexico routes this year, United Airlines ( began Chicago-Cancun service in July. United had initiated Los Angeles-Cancun and Chicago-Puerto Vallarta routes in March. Combined, it serves 16 routes between the U.S. and Mexico, excluding two winter season routes between Denver-Mexico City and Denver-Ixtapa. The new flights to Mexico are offered via United and its low-cost counterpart, Ted.

Seasonal flights to be added during the winter months will include American Airlines’ announced plans to start one roundtrip, nonstop flight weekly from JFK to Mexico’s San Jose del Cabo in the Baja California region, effective Dec. 16, 2006-April 9, 2007.

Operating flights to the Mexico market since 1941, American currently serves San Jose del Cabo with three flights daily from Dallas/Fort Worth, two daily from Los Angeles and three weekly flights from Chicago.

Plans to lengthen its list of services to Mexico resort cities this fall with six additional weekly flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The carrier also plans to inaugurate nonstop services between Los Angeles and La Paz, San Francisco and Cancun, Seattle and Cancun, as well as between Portland to both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Northwest Airlines ( has announced additional weekday frequencies during the winter travel season between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Acapulco, and Manzanillo and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. Subject to government approval, the airline will also include service from Detroit to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo from Jan. 20-March 31, 2007, as well as new service between Memphis and Cozumel to operate on Saturdays from Feb. 17-April 14, 2007.

Although Continental Airlines ( has not added new services in recent months, the airline remains a strong player in the market by operating over 580 flights weekly to 30 Mexican destinations from Texas airports in Laredo, McCallen and Houston, as well as from Newark’s Liberty International Airport and Los Angeles.

The increased number of expanded routes, however, has not been limited to international services. Mexican airlines, particularly the low-cost carriers, are also boosting services. Private and semi-private airlines such as Avolar (, ABC Interjet ( and Volaris (, as well as Click Mexicana ( have launched low-cost flights to different parts of Mexico