Mexican president suggests opening domestic routes to foreign airlines

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Volaris planes at Mexico City Airport. Volaris is one of three airlines that dominate the domestic market in Mexico.
Volaris planes at Mexico City Airport. Volaris is one of three airlines that dominate the domestic market in Mexico. Photo Credit: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com

Mexico's president would like to begin allowing non-Mexican carriers to fly domestic routes within the country.

The announcement, made earlier this week by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, comes as Mexico's airline industry has grown more concentrated following the collapse of Interjet during the pandemic.

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Currently, just three airlines -- Aeromexico, Volaris and Viva Aerobus -- control 97% of the Mexican domestic market, according to Dohop, which develops technology platforms that enable airline interconnectivity.

Like in the U.S., Mexico doesn't allow foreign airlines to fly point-to-point domestic routes. But opening domestic city pairs to airlines from regions such as the U.S. and Europe could boost competition.

Dohop commercial director Sarah Hanan said such a change could appeal to U.S. low-cost carriers.

"We would expect the likes of Spirit, JetBlue and Southwest to further develop their footprint in Mexico and that this extra capacity would create more connectivity opportunities to/from Mexico by connecting secondary cities in Mexico to the rest of the world -- again good news for Mexican travelers, those wishing to visit Mexico and indeed Mexico's quite mature tourism economy," she said.

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Lopez Obrador's proposal on Tuesday followed by three weeks his confirmation that Mexico's federal government is exploring the possibility of launching a state-owned airline as soon as next year that would be operated by the army. Under the proposal, the state carrier would fly a fleet of 10 planes and focus on providing service to Mexican cities that currently don't have air connections.

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