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News Article

Mexican Airlines Ramp Up Operations, Reopen Routes

By Alicia Arizpe | Tue, 07/21/2020 - 14:03

After months limiting their operations and cancelling flights due to low demand, Mexican airlines are reopening numerous routes under the expectation that the gradual lifting of travel restrictions will act as an incentive for travelers to fly again.

While Mexico did not close its borders nor restricted domestic travel, flight demand fell sharply as the COVID-19 outbreak spread through Mexico. Between March and May, local airlines reported drops in demand over 90 percent for both domestic and international flights, which led to significantly reduced capacity and cancellation of flights to less popular destinations. As the country reopens, local airlines are now also restarting routes while strengthening safety protocols to get passengers traveling again.

This month, Volaris, Viva Aerobus and Interjet have announced they will reopen several routes answering the gradual increase in demand for air travel. Low-cost airline Volaris, for instance, sharply reduced its capacity in earlier months but has been gradually lifting it from its lowest point in May. That month, Volaris flew at only 11 percent of its total capacity and increased it to 37 percent in June following market demand. “We are seeing a gradual recovery of demand that was accelerating towards the end of June and into July,” said Enrique Beltranena, President and CEO of Volaris. “For July 2020, Volaris plans to operate at approximately 60 percent of its capacity versus the originally published schedule in response to a gradual recovery of the market.” The airline also announced that it would reach 70 percent capacity by August.

Ultra-low-cost airline Viva Aerobus also announced that it would expand its available routes by 70 percent in July from 52 to 88. The airline also announced two new direct flights from Mexico City to Houston and Los Angeles. However, the airline will remain attentive to market fluctuations and announced that the current offering “will be kept or adjusted throughout the month depending on current demand due to the health emergency.”

Aeroméxico and Interjet have also announced the reopening of some routes. Interjet, which is undergoing a financial restructuration to address a crisis that predates the COVID-19 outbreak, had cut its routes from 50 to only six during April and had stopped all international flights. The airline had also been forced to return 60 of its 66 Airbus aircraft back to its lessors. However, Interjet announced a gradual reopening in July of routes from Mexico City to Cancun, Culiacan, Guadalajara and Monterrey, among other destinations, which would require the return of some of its fleet. The airline also received a US$150 million capital injection last week to help it weather the crisis. Aeroméxico also announced that it would double its flights during July and launched a new route from Monterrey to Tijuana.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer