Consistently ranking as one of the top international destinations for U.S. travelers, Mexico has seen steady growth in airline and tourism options in recent years. American interest in Mexican resorts and spas has grown in tune with Mexico’s long-term tourism plan, a focus that contributes over $12 billion dollars annually to the nation’s economy. In fact, Mexico has become so popular with travelers that Cancun now ranks third behind London and Rome in international air bookings placed at a popular online travel site. During the past six months, both major airlines and low-cost carriers in the United States and Canada have expanded service to several cities and resorts in Mexico by adding flights to existing routes and launching new services. As a result, Mexico’s 20 million annual visitors, over 80% of which come from the U.S. and Canada, can expect to see better rates and increased options for airfare and vacation packages.
At the forefront of this expansion into the Mexican air travel market is Frontier Airlines. With plans to launch round-trip service between Denver and Guadalajara in December, Frontier will now offer flights to eight of Mexico’s premier resort destinations. Having established a “secondary hub” in Cancún that services seven U.S. cities, Frontier has afforded American tourists increased access to the city’s unique resorts and spas. The carrier offers nonstop flights between Cancun and all seven of its U.S. cities.
In recent months, Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has begun offering new non-stop services to several Mexico resort destinations such as Acapulco, Merida, and Ixtapa from Atlanta; Mazatlan from Salt Lake City; and Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco from New York’s JFK. Just this year as well, United Airlines has added services from Chicago to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, in addition to a popular route between Los Angeles and Cancun. In all, United now has 16 distinct routes to Mexico from the American mainland.
Even smaller carriers like Alaska Airlines have greatly expanded their offerings. Alaska’s flight capacity to Mexico has grown by 22% in recent months, with most flights originating in the Pacific Northwest and California and traveling to Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
Many carriers have also introduced seasonal flight services for the winter months. American Airlines’ new weekly non-stop service from JFK to San Jose del Cabo in the Baja California region will be offered from Dec. 16 to April 9, 2007. For their part, Northwest Airlines will add several seasonal routes from Midwestern cities to Acapulco, Manzanillo and Ixtapa.
Much like their American counterparts, Mexican airlines are also making travel more accessible with expanded flight offerings. Aeromexico and Mexicana already operate daily routes between New York’s JFK and Mexico City, while Mexicana and its low-fare carrier, Click, will begin service from Baltimore to Mexico City and Miami to Cancun. Flights within Mexico have also increased, making it easier to visit multiple resorts in one family vacation.
Even Canadian airlines are getting in on the action. Air Canada has added 25 additional non-stop flights per week, bringing the carrier’s total to 61. Included in the new routes are services from Toronto to Cozumel and Ixtapa and Montreal to Mexico City. Sunwing Airlines has begun offering flights from Montreal and Ottawa to Acapulco and between Toronto and Cozumel.
Most importantly, this trend doesn’t show any signs of stopping as airlines, travel companies and the Mexican government continue to lure American and Canadian tourists. Currently, affordable flights and vacation packages aren’t difficult to find, a fact sure to further increase interest in Mexico as an international travel destination. Perhaps it can be said that there has never been a better time to plan that Cancun family vacation or romantic getaway to Puerto Vallarta.