U.S. airlines are set to enjoy a record summer for traffic to Mexican destinations as demand continues on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic and an effective vaccine drive in the United States.
In June, U.S. carriers transported more than 2.2 million passengers to Mexico, beating the record for the busiest month ever that was set in March 2018. The June figure was 24% higher than that of June 2019.
Between January and May of this year, 81.7% of foreign tourists who entered the country were from the United States. Likewise, almost 59% of travelers to the United States were from Mexico in the first quarter of this year, according to an analysis by the Center for Tourism Research and Competitiveness Anáhuac (Cicotur).
The biggest beneficiaries of the spike have been American Airlines, United Airlines and Mexican airline Volaris. Another Mexican airline, Viva Aerobus, has also benefited, due in part to the collapse of domestic rival Interjet.
However, in the main U.S. airlines have been better positioned to capitalize from high demand.
Roberto Montalvo, an academic at the Universidad Iberoamericana, explained that while vaccines had helped drive the demand for U.S. carriers, there were other factors at play. The regrading of Mexican air safety by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last May, which prevents Mexican airlines from offering new routes, increasing the frequency of trips, or using additional airplanes, had given U.S. airlines an advantage.
“The demand was always going to start coming back for business and pleasure, and even for health reasons, such as through the famous vaccine tourism … the ones who can meet the demand are the American lines, because they are able to do it,” he said.
Montalvo added that the budget air travel market should recover with ease, while longer distance travel could pose challenges. “The Mexican market is very volatile in terms of prices … In the middle and low segment [demand] will be determined by cost, so to the extent that Volaris, Viva and even Aeroméxico offer good prices, they will be able to recover market without problem. However, when you go on a trip where cost is not the main issue, but services, schedules and even luggage play a more prominent role, it will be more difficult to recover the market,” he said.
With reports from Expansión