Tijuana will have a direct flight to the United States starting on Feb. 15, 2024, when American Airlines launches a new route from the Baja California border city to Phoenix, Arizona.
The daily flight service will depart from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for the Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) on an Embraer 175 aircraft with capacity for 76 passengers. It will be Tijuana’s first direct flight to the U.S. in seven years, after the closure of the Volaris Tijuana-Oakland route.
“We are excited to become the only airline to connect Tijuana to the U.S. and to do so from our Phoenix hub, where our customers will have access to approximately 250 daily flights to 100 destinations in the winter,” said José A. Freig, American Airlines’ vice president of operations and commercial for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Freig added that Tijuana would be American Airlines’ 26th destination in Mexico, where the company has operated for 80 years and employs over 1,200 people.
TIJ currently has 681 weekly departing flights to 39 Mexican destinations – the most of any airport after Mexico City International Airport (AICM), which connects with 45. Tijuana does not currently offer any other international routes, but that is set to change soon, when Hainan Airlines opens a direct flight from Tijuana to Beijing, China, in the coming months.
The attractiveness of Tijuana as an airline hub is aided by the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) pedestrian sky bridge, which allows passengers to cross the U.S. border to San Diego without leaving the airport. Since the CBX opened in 2015, TIJ’s passenger numbers have increased by 284%, reaching 11.06 million between January and October 2023.
Authorities and business leaders in both Mexico and the U.S. celebrated the new route from Phoenix, which TIJ director Eduardo González predicted would “open the door to other important destinations.”
The decision also drew praise from Jared Harckham, managing director of Aviation, Travel & Tourism Advisory for ICF Aviation. In a post on LinkedIn, Harckham highlighted that Tijuana is a booming manufacturing hub benefiting from nearshoring, and an up-and-coming culinary destination.
“Kudos to American Airlines for recognizing a unique, first-mover opportunity!” he said.