Thursday, June 13, 2024

AIFA adds second international airline with flight to Dominican Republic

Low-cost Dominican airline Arajet is now offering direct flights between Santo Domingo and the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) north of Mexico City.

The first flight from the Dominican Republic capital touched down at AIFA on Thursday. Arajet, the second international airline to use the new airport after Venezuela’s Conviasa, will fly three times weekly between Santo Domingo and AIFA, located about 50 kilometers north of central Mexico City in México state. One-way flights cost less than US $200.

Arajet will commence flights from Santo Domingo to two other Mexican cities – Cancún and Monterrey – next Friday. It will fly to Cancún three times per week and twice weekly to Monterrey.

Federal Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco and the Dominican Republic’s ambassador in Mexico, María Isabel Castillo Báez, were at AIFA on Thursday to welcome Arajet’s maiden flight to Mexico. Torruco said that the new flights between Mexico and the Dominican Republic will benefit the tourism sectors of both countries.

“Through connectivity we boost tourism activity by facilitating the movement of tourists,” he said.

For his part, Arajet CEO Victor Pacheco Mendez said there was “skepticism” about the decision to fly between Santo Domingo and AIFA. But “of the 18 routes Arajet has, [flights to] Felipe Ángeles are the bestseller,”  he said.

The Dominican Republic is not currently a major source country for tourists, with just over 12,000 Dominicans flying into Mexico in the first seven months of 2022.

Two other airlines will soon start flying internationally to and from AIFA, which was built by the army and opened in March.

The next international airline to open at AIFA will be Panama's Copa Airlines, which will begin to offer a route to Panama City on Monday.
The next international airline to open at AIFA will be Panama’s Copa Airlines, which will begin to offer a route to Panama City on Monday. Alan Wilson CC BY-SA 2.0

Panama’s Copa Airlines will start twice-weekly flights from Panama City on Monday, while Mexico’s VivaAerobús is slated to begin flights to Havana, Cuba, later this year. VivaAerobús, Volaris and Aeroméxico already offer domestic flights from AIFA to several destinations around the country, with each airline having recently added new routes.

AIFA general director Isidoro Pastor told a press conference Thursday that Mexican airlines are interested in commencing flights to the United States from the new airport, but are currently unable to do so because U.S. aviation authorities downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating to Category 2 last year.

The airport chief predicted that 1 million passengers will have used AIFA by the time it celebrates its first anniversary next March. Almost 300,000 people have boarded or disembarked flights at AIFA in the six months since it opened, and that figure is expected to double by the end of the year.

Pastor said the new airport is expected to become profitable in late 2023 or early 2024 as flight and passenger numbers continue to grow.

With reports from Aristegui Noticias, La Jornada, El Financiero and Expansión

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