key trends in u.s.
airlift to mexico
“When we get questions about safety and security,
we tell our clients that the re-
sort areas in Mexico are very
safe, probably more so than
south Texas. But, we don’t
want them to think we are
giving them the brush-off, or
just giving them a standard
response to get the sale.
The fact is, we want our cli-
ents to be comfortable with
a destination, and we want
them to have confidence in
us and in our professional
knowledge of the world situa-
tion. We take all of our clients’
concerns about safety very
seriously. One of the things
I mention to clients is that
I’m planning a destination
wedding in Mexico for my
brother next June. That’s
a pretty strong statement
about my feelings for travel
in Mexico.” —Becky Jones, owner,
Becky Jones Travel Inc.,
San Antonio, Texas
6 Discover more at www.visitmexico.com
AIRLIFT TO MEXICO IS STEADILY climbing
back up to cruising altitude after a rocky few
years following the loss of Mexicana Airlines.
Noteworthy recent developments include
Southwest Airline’s code-share arrangement
with Mexican low-fare airline Volaris. And,
within the last year, Virgin Atlantic introduced
service from San Francisco to Los Cabos and
Cancun, and from Los Angeles to Cancun.
The airline adds its third Mexican market in
December when it starts service from San
Francisco to Puerto Vallarta.
“We’re based on the West Coast, so it was
natural to launch our new service to Mexico
from here. We also have a lot of folks connecting to Mexico from our flights from the
East Coast,” said Abby Lunardini, VP of corporate communications for Virgin America.
We’re pretty happy with the bookings to date,
and the positive trends we’re seeing overall,”
For additional trends and an overall outlook
on airlift to Mexico, Travel Weekly spoke with
noted industry analyst, Henry Harteveldt,
cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group in
Can you give us an overview of what
airlines currently have service to
Mexico from the U.S.?
Harteveldt: Right now you have American, Delta—which is doing some creative
code-sharing with Aeromexico—United,
Continental, Alaska, Frontier, Virgin America,
Southwest—through its code-share with
Volaris—US Air, Jet Blue, Spirit and Allegiant,
which is in the charter market.
What are the primary U.S. gateways?
Harteveldt: The major gateways are essentially the major airline hubs in the country,
such as New York, Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth,
Houston and Los Angeles. U.S. Air is operating a lot of flights to Mexico from its Phoenix
hub. There has also been some growth out
of Florida, from cities such as Ft. Lauderdale,
Orlando and Tampa down to Cancun and
What are the current pricing trends?
Harteveldt: Fares are trending up, but not
quite as aggressively as we’ve seen with
fares in the domestic market. It’s a very delicate environment right now. When Mexicana
folded, it resulted in less capacity and less
competition. That gave airlines pricing power,
and they are definitely trying to raise fares.
But, the challenge is that Mexico is such a
budget-friendly destination that airlines can
only increase fares so much before bookings
fall. And, of course there are factors such as
the media coverage of violence in Mexico.
Americans are terrible with geography, and
they assume that all of Mexico is affected by
the violence. So, that obviously puts downward price pressure on airlines, hotels and
Are there any developments emerging that could influence air lift from
the U.S. to Mexico in the future?
Harteveldt: There are a few factors to
watch. One is the progression of Mexico as a
manufacturing center. As that manufacturing
base gets stronger, airlines will have to add
more service to cities in the northern part of
the country. Another segment where Mexico
is strong is in energy and minerals. The country has tremendous natural resources. Airlines
may eventually have to add lift to accommodate American business travel involving those
industries. There could be some opportunity
for growth as far as business travel goes,
which in turn will create even more opportunities for agents with a good understanding