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Southwest to end Mexico City service in March

Southwest Airlines will end service to Mexico City on 30 March, becoming the latest North American airline to exit the Mexican capital.

The Dallas-based airline currently serves Mexico City from Houston Hobby, operating four times daily. It began flights on the route in October 2015 with twice daily service, and doubled the frequency in 2017.

Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly says the airline is planning to focus on international destinations from its strong points in the USA, and leisure markets have performed better. While the Mexico City route had shown some "nice improvements", it is mostly a business travel market, he says on an earnings call.

"Given where we are right now, we see better opportunities to deploy that capacity," says Kelly. He adds that Southwest could potentially return to Mexico City in the future, such as when it is ready to accept foreign currencies and roll out marketing in foreign countries.

The low-cost carrier's exit from nonstop service between Mexico City and Houston Hobby will leave the route unserved, FlightGlobal schedules data show. Aeromexico, Interjet and United Airlines offer nonstop service between Houston Intercontinental and Mexico City.

Southwest is the third North American airline in recent months to announce plans to leave the Mexican capital. Alaska Airlines and WestJet exited Mexico City in 2018.

Southwest has no plans to add new international points in 2019, as it focuses on getting its long-planned Hawaii service off the ground.

"We are really pleased with our international service," says Southwest president Tom Nealon. While international service constitute only about 4% of the airline's capacity, they were accretive to the airline's unit revenue growth, he adds.

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