Mexicans Flock to the US for VaccinesBy Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Wed, 04/28/2021 - 11:27
During March 2021, 69.2 percent of international travelers to and from Mexico flew with American Airlines, reports A21. The total number of passengers, 1.47 million, was much higher when compared to the entirety of travelers in 2020 thanks to a 17.4 percent increase in air travel that month. In total, 445,000 of Mexico’s international flyers used American Airlines, 292,000 United Airlines, 230,000 Delta Air Lines, 132,000 Southwest Airlines and 101,000 Alaska Airlines. According to A21, throughout 2021, 3.448 million passengers have traveled between Mexico and the US.
Why the increase in demand? Most of these numbers can be attributed to vaccine tourism. As USA Today reported, flocks of wealthy Latin Americans have been flying to the US to get vaccinated. “In Mexico, business is booming for chartered flights to Texas,” reads USA Today. Mexico’s vaccination progress has been slow, with slightly over 4 percent of the population receiving a single dose, reports Our World in Data. “Mexico is lagging behind,” said Mauricio Fernández Garza, Former Mayor of San Pedro Garza García to Los Angeles Times. “A lot of people have access to the US and they are going to protect themselves.”
Despite increases in demand, however, the US is still 40 percent below the traffic levels it had in 2019, reports A21.
How About Mexico?
During March 2021, Mexican airlines saw 3.17 million passengers, which exceeded the demand of March 2020 by over 20,000 people, reports A21. Volaris has shown the largest increase in numbers, with 27 percent more passengers when compared to February 2021. February is one of the months with lower travel demand in Mexico but March is when airlines usually recover thanks to the Spring Break. Despite the Volaris’ passenger boom, Grupo Aeroméxico and Viva Aerobus transported a similar number of passengers as in February 2021.
When Will Mexico’s Industry Recover?
Recovery in air traffic will be different for each country, explains the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA). Some countries, like Chile, have had very successful vaccination programs, while those of other countries have been subpar. Moreover, it is important to consider that vaccination is a long-term solution. In the short term, other efficient alternatives should be considered to allow mobility. Rapid tests have proven to be an effective alternative to avoid spreading infection and come at a marginal cost compared to the possibility of closing the skies to international air transport, said ALTA in a press release.