During Tourism Tianguis 2006, the topics were plenty. When it
came to low-cost air travel, the travel trade fair brought air
conditions front and center. Mexican tourism officials and airline
representatives gave great energy to the country’s low-cost airline
trend and its impact on the tourism industry.
During the past year, several private and semiprivate airlines
such as Avolar (www.avolar.com.mx), ABC Interjet
(www.interjet.com.mx) and Volaris (www.volaris.com.mx), as well as
Mexicana Airline’s Click Mexicana (www.clickmexicana.com) have
launched low-cost flights to different areas within Mexico.
The country’s longest running airline, Mexicana sparked the
trend with its July 2005 launch of Click. Avolar followed that
September with its fleet of three planes carrying up to 150
passengers. The carrier hopes to service more than 800,000 visitors
by the end of the year.
ABC Interjet introduced its new fleet in December 2005. In
March, Volaris launched service with 55 planes carrying up to 144
“This new network of air transportation is expected to increase
domestic tourism among international visitors,” reported Mexico
Tourism Secretary Rodolfo Elizondo. “Our government is confident in
the potential growth of this market and is committed to supporting
the business objectives of airlines that are offering low-cost
services to consumers.”
Mexico received 21.96 million international visitors in 2005,
and travel to the country’s less-frequented destinations is
becoming increasingly popular. While air travel to areas outside of
Mexico’s major airline hubs has traditionally been costly, the
competition generated by the increased availability of domestic
flights within the country is expected to drive down costs.
Only 6.5 percent of Mexican visitors currently travel via air
within the country, leaving much room for growth. The country’s
diverse independent companies are taking advantage of this
opportunity by focusing on fleet modernization and technology,
increasing labor productivity, and improving service and safety
standards all while remaining committed to keeping costs low. The
result is convenient air travel that at times is less expensive
than ground transportation.
According to airline representatives, the promise of increased
tourism made possible by inexpensive air transportation is also
driving the creation of strategic alliances between the airlines
and ground transportation, hotels and entertainment companies.
Forty miles west of Mexico City, Adolfo Lopez Mateos
International Airport in Toluca serves as a central hub for the
majority of the new low-cost carriers. The location helps to
alleviate air traffic of other cities, such as Monterrey,
Guadalajara and Mexico City.
The five airlines that spoke at Tourism Tianguis 2006 agreed
that the increasing demand on the domestic airline industry creates
a need for expansion of Toluca Airport. Plans call for improved
infrastructure and ground connectivity to other Mexican
destinations, and for an increased number of expanded routes.
Mexico’s domestic service currently caters to approximately 2.5
million passengers annually.