Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

It is getting cheaper and cheaper to fly to Mexico from the U.S. In August 2016, restrictions on flights between the U.S. and Mexico were lifted, which was expected to bring more options and lower fares for travelers.

In that wake, airlines like American, Delta and Southwest started announcing new flight routes. In December, Mexico and the U.S. opened their aviation markets to other carriers, as well, meaning that airlines on both sides of the border would be able to fly any routes they wanted at prices they would set. The result has been an explosion of Mexican low-cost carriers crossing the border, with dozens of new routes scheduled for the future, as well. 

In the beginning of 2017, the U.S. DOT instituted a slot assignment to allocate a total of 28 slot pairs at Mexico City's Benito Juarez Airport and at JFK. They were released in two phases for operations from this summer into summer 2018 and were provided exclusively to low-cost carriers. Six Mexican and U.S. airlines were seeking to access the 28 slot pairs. They were Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Interjet, VivaAerobus and Volaris. 

Conditional antitrust immunity to the proposed alliance agreement between Delta and Aeromexico was granted late last year, subject to the two carriers agreeing to meet stringent conditions for state approval, including these slots divestitures. The antitrust immunity allows Delta and Aeromexico to essentially operate as one company on cross-border flights by jointly setting fares, sharing revenues, and aligning flight schedules to ensure more travellers can make flight connections. The antitrust immunity is for a five-year term only, although subject to application for renewal.

Interjet, in terms of departures the largest competitor to Aeromexico and Delta's joint operation in Mexico City, has ambitions to link the Mexican capital directly to up to eight more points in the U.S. as it seeks to significantly grow its activity in this international market. The airline first introduced US. .service to San Antonio from Mexico City in December 2011 and now provides over 23 daily, roundtrip flights between points in Mexico and the U.S., including links from Mexico City to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando Sanford and San Antonio. 

The airline is bolstering its services to Los Angeles by adding new, nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and El Bajio, Mexico. Interjet already serves L.A. with nonstop flights to Cancun, Mexico City and Guadalajara. This new service is expected to start Nov. 23. The airline will launch a special sale for these new flights from L.A., as well, with roundtrip fares starting at $199 to Los Cabos and $259 to Puerto Vallarta and El Bajjio. The sale will end Jan. 17 and all sales include taxes. 

Viva was seeking a total of nine slot pairs in Mexico City -- three in phase one and six in case two -- and two slot pairs in New York to create within two years. In the first phase the three Mexico City slot pairs will be used to deliver new routes for the carrier into four U.S. markets: daily flights to both Las Vegas and Los Angeles, a four-times-weekly link to San Antonio and three-times-weekly service to Oakland. The second phase will ramp up its activities with requests for a second daily Los Angeles flight, a new double daily New York service (also requiring two New York slots), daily connections to Chicago and Houston and a slot pair to grow the San Antonio and Oakland flights to a daily schedule. 

Viva Aerobus now offers Cancun-Chicago charter flights, with one weekly frequency, to start on Feb. 17. A Cancun-Newark charter flight will start on March 31. Passengers can purchase tickets from $130 for both destinations. In addition to these new routes, Viva Aerobus will also operate charter flights from Cancun to other destinations in the U.S. for Vacation Express, and also from Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta to destinations in Canada for Sunwing Vacations.

Volaris is the third low-cost carrier from Mexico that has continued expansion in the United States. In September 2017, the airline added a new, daily route to San Antonio from Mexico City. In November, the airline plans to launch a new route from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles, which will operate on Fridays. Earlier this year a route between Oaxaca and Los Angeles was launched, as well as ones from Queretaro to L.A. and Queretaro to Chicago Midway. 

Volaris is seeking to introduce new links to Mexico City from Ontario (California) and San Jose in 2018 as part of a request for eight slot pairs at Mexico City and two pairs in New York. The phase two slots will be used in 2018 to enable Volaris to grow Mexico City flights to Oakland and Denver to a year-round schedule, as well as to launch the proposed Ontario (three times weekly) and San Jose (four times weekly) flights using a shared slot pair.  The second New York slot is proposed for a new daily Cancun flight.


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