Meeting the Challenge of NAICM Head onWed, 11/01/2017 - 16:54
With the eagerly awaited NAICM project, there is a huge expectation that many of the major airlines will compete for slots within the megaproject. Fernando Bosque, Director General of Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP), welcomes the competition. “The customer’s goal is to arrive in the fastest time, at the lowest cost, with the lowest number of connections,” he says. “At GAP airports, we offer an extremely competitive service.”
GAP operates 12 airports across Mexico’s Pacific coast and central belt: Tijuana, Mexicali, Hermosillo, La Paz, Los Cabos, Los Mochis, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Manzanillo, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato and Morelia. The group’s infrastructure greatly impacts the national aerospace market, with five of its airports ranking within the Top 10 in terms of Mexico’s highest passenger-traffic levels, representing 26 percent of the total passenger traffic in Mexico in 2016. Guadalajara is in third place with 11.4 million, Tijuana in fifth with 6.3 million, Los Cabos in sixth with 4.1 million, Puerto Vallarta is seventh with 4 million and Guanajuato ranks 10th with 1.7 million.
With more than 32 million passengers served per year overall, GAP is the country’s second-largest group after AICM in terms of passenger traffic volume. “The composition of GAP airports contributes significantly to Mexico’s civil aviation boom, in relation to the balance between national and international passengers, the characteristics of passengers by destination, cities, business or regions,” says Bosque.
Passenger growth at some of GAP’s airports has been relatively high compared to the average at national airports. Stand-outs include Guadalajara and Tijuana, with 31 percent and 28 percent growth, respectively. Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta are not far behind, at 12 percent and 9 percent. “The group as a whole experienced growth of 26 percent in passenger volumes in 2016 compared to 2015, second only to AICM,” says Bosque.
The development of its routes in the most popular destinations like Tijuana and Guadalajara is among the reasons Bosque is not worried about the NAICM project. “Point-to-point flights with enough demand will not be jeopardized,” he says. “For example, the Guadalajara to Los Angeles route will not be lost as it makes no sense to connect through NAICM on this route.” In fact, he believes the new airport actually represents an opportunity for operators like GAP to consolidate pointto-point routes.
Other routes, however, face some danger, particularly internationally. “Typically, to travel to Europe, many passengers connect through US airports like Dallas or Miami,” he says. “But passengers may find it is now quicker and cheaper to fly to Europe direct from NAICM.” Even at home, there could be issues. “Some of GAP’s airports that are closer to Mexico City may be jeopardized,” he says. He lists Morelia, airports in the Bajio region and even Aguascalientes as possible danger zones.
But Bosque sees this as an opportunity, since it will motivate other operators to improve their offering and provide more competitive deals. “The real value is the passenger’s time, so it all depends on which airport can offer the lowest cost and the least travel time,” he says. “To protect ourselves, we remain competitive, offering low costs and shorter time frames.”
Low-cost carriers have a significant role to play in maintaining GAP’s competitiveness. These airlines provided 38 percent of all GAP seats in 2010 but now offer 59 percent. Volaris and Viva Aerobus alone provide almost 40 percent, meaning they play a fundamental role in the development of new routes, the frequency of flights and the capacity at GAP airports. “These airlines are expected to place a great deal of orders to keep their fleets up to date in the next few years,” Bosque says. “This is not only positive for GAP but for the entire economy as it underpins growth and increases capacity for passengers.”
Bosque takes GAP’s role in the country’s economic development very seriously. “For GAP to strengthen its smaller airports like Manzanillo, Los Mochis and Morelia, we must foster industry in the regions,” he says. “It is important that we anticipate the needs of the airlines and the passengers, and in this way, we can remain in the most competitive position possible.”