Restrictions on air transportation between Mexico and the United States were lifted today in what U.S. officials described as a “landmark agreement” which leaves airlines from both countries free to fly the routes they choose.
Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza signed the new air services agreement today with U.S. Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx in Washington, D.C., after the completion of discussions that began in 2012.
They described the accord as “transcendental” because they expect it will result in improved connectivity, generating more tourism and trade, while Foxx called it a great day for civil aviation for the two countries.
More frequent flights are expected as a result, and lower fares are also possible. The pact also facilitates the establishment of alliances between airlines of each country.
Foxx and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry forecast a “significant” increase in trade and travel between the U.S. and Mexico.
“The new agreement will benefit U.S. and Mexican airlines, travelers, businesses, airports and localities by allowing increased market access for passenger and cargo airlines to fly between any city in Mexico and any city in the United States,” they said in a joint statement.
“Cargo carriers will now have expanded opportunities to provide service to new destinations that were not available under the current, more restrictive agreement.”
Expansion of the air cargo industry is anticipated because a Mexican or U.S. carrier will be able to transport freight from either country to a third.
The deal still requires approval by the Mexican Senate, but Ruiz Esparza predicted that would come early in the new year. No such ratification is required in the U.S.
While some Mexican airline executives and workers have been critical of the agreement for fear of domination by the larger American aviation industry, Aeroméxico has welcomed it.
But Mexico’s largest airline is seen as being in a favorable position for its alliance with Delta Air Lines. Its Mexican competitors have no such arrangements.
Mexico’s carriers have a fleet of 300 planes. U.S. carriers have 7,500.