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WestJet latest airline to retreat from Mexico City

Calgary-based WestJet will exit Mexico City in October, becoming the latest among several North American airlines to retrench from Mexico's capital city.

The move comes just seven month after WestJet entered the Mexico City market with routes from Calgary and Vancouver.

"It's just not performing up to the standards that we would like to see," WestJet chief financial officer Harry Taylor says of Mexico City. "We don't want to be cost-subsidising at this point."

Taylor adds that despite retrenching, WestJet still sees long-term opportunity to serve Mexico City and could return.

"Long term – there's something there," he tells FlightGlobal.

WestJet will operate its last Vancouver-Mexico City flight on 3 October, followed by its final Calgary-Mexico City flight on 27 October, FlightGlobal schedules data shows.

The carrier launched both routes in March and does not serve Mexico City from any other destination, data shows.

WestJet's move mirrors cuts by other airlines. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines will stop serving Mexico City on 7 November when it operates it last flight from Los Angeles.

Alaska called that route "underperforming" and said that the change frees aircraft to launch new routes, such as Seattle to Columbus, Ohio, which the airline plans to start in March 2019.

Alaska also had served Mexico City from San Francisco, but ended that route in May.

Likewise, United Airlines will also cut its Los Angeles-Mexico City flight in October, schedules data shows.

Capacity in available seats from North America to Mexico City jumped 9% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2018, primarily reflecting expansion by low-cost carriers Aeromar, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, VivaAerobus and Volaris, schedules data shows.

WestJet's move comes as the airline seeks to tighten its operation and bolster its finances. The carrier has seen costs balloon in recent quarters, and posted a second quarter operating loss.

The financial challenges hit amid a broad, companywide transformation under which WestJet is moving upscale, acquiring Boeing 787s, installing business class seats on 737s and adding flights at its hubs.

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