US carriers invade Mexico

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Continental and Delta Air Lines are leading a swarm of US carriers capitalising on the newly liberalised US-Mexico bilateral.

Since the two nations agreed in December to allow another carrier from each nation on cross-border routes, the US Department of Transportation has been processing and approving a blizzard of applications. At the latest count, it has awarded at least 30 new routes for US combination carriers and nine for all-cargo airlines.

The biggest beneficiary is Delta Air Lines, which is adding 12 new Mexican destinations, plus more frequencies on some of its most popular ones. USA 3000 is second with six new routes, and it has applied for several more. Continental, which already has the most extensive Mexican network of any US airline, is adding four routes, Atlantic Southeast, Delta Connection, Spirit and United two each, and American, Delta Connection Comair and US Airways are each adding one. Other recent routes, including Alaska Airlines service to Mexico City, came independent of the revised bilateral.

Aeromexico and Mexicana continue to build their northern networks, but so far other Mexican carriers have shown little corresponding interest. Even though a third Mexican airline could fly almost anywhere in the USA, Azteca is the only one to apply. It has only added three routes.

Mexicana chief executive Emilio Romano will discuss route development between the USA and Mexico during his keynote presentation at Network 2006 in San Antonio in early March (see http://www.networkusa.info  for more information). ■