Virgin America seeks approval to serve Mexico

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Virgin America announced on 29 June it will file with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to begin flying to Mexico later this year from its Los Angeles and San Francisco focus cities.

The San Francisco-based carrier intends to fly to Cancun from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and also hopes to receive the authority to fly to San Jose Del Cabo from San Francisco.

"The nice thing about Mexico is that it helps balance out our network. There is strong traffic to these beaches in the first quarter which is our weakest quarter," Virgin America CEO David Cush told ATI today on a flight celebrating the launch of its new Toronto service.

Schedules in the Innovata database show that United currently flies to Cancun from San Francisco, and Delta, United, and Mexicana fly there from Los Angeles. Alaska Airlines recently ceased service on 6 June.

"I think that's more of a network strategy that Alaska has than any comment on the market," says Cush. "We've looked at the numbers, we think it will be successful." He notes that he thinks Alaska has been focusing on "redirecting their network to Hawaii".

The airline will face competition from Alaska Airlines and United Airlines on the San Francisco - Cabo route.

Cush explains that all of the routes have open route authorities and that "we're quite optimistic that we'll get approval for these and get them quickly".

The current bilateral agreement between the USA and Mexico only allows three American carriers to have authority for a route. There are currently three US Airlines - United, American, and Alaska - that are flying from Los Angeles to Cabo, for example.

According to a regulatory filing submitted to the DOT, Virgin America's proposed service from Los Angeles to Cancun and from San Francisco to Cabo will operate five times weekly. Flights from San Francisco to Cancun will run three times weekly.