The USA and Mexico are in talks to liberalise their bilateral air service agreement that would allow more carriers to gain coveted rights to operate flights between the two countries.

A US Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson says that the most recent meetings between the two countries took place in Mexico City during the last week of May.

"The two sides made significant progress and we look forward to further discussions," they tell Flightglobal.

Liberalisation of air services between the USA and Mexico would be a boon to airlines in both countries, which now face restrictions when launching new air service.

The air transport agreement between the USA and Mexico was first signed in 1960 and was last amended in 2005. On each city pair, each country can designate only up to two carriers to provide service. The exception is on flights between USA and 14 Mexican cities, where each country can designate up to three airlines. The 14 Mexican cities - mostly leisure destinations - are: Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Guadalajara, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Loreto, Manzanilllo, Mazatlan, Merida, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo (Los Cabos).

US and Mexican carriers are hoping for further liberalisation of the US-Mexico bilateral treaty in order to launch new flights. Southwest Airlines, for one, has indicated it plans to operate to Mexico from Houston Hobby once it is able to begin international service from the Texas airport in 2015.

Southwest executive vice-president and chief legal and regulatory officer Ron Ricks says the airline supports efforts to liberalise the skies between the two countries. While noting that there are plenty of new destinations the airline could serve, Ricks says during the airline's earnings call today: "Mexico, on the other hand, is a very attractive place for us to fly."

Southwest and its subsidiary AirTran Airways currently fly to Los Cabos, Mexico City and Cancun in Mexico.

Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet said recently it hopes to serve Los Angeles after ending service to Orange County due to poor demand. It had noted that Aeromexico and Volaris already hold the Mexican designations to serve Los Angeles from Mexico City - a route that allows for only two Mexican carriers and two US airlines.

Interjet has said that it will instead consider starting service to Los Angeles from Guadalajara, a city pair that allows for three Mexican airlines. Aeromexico and Volaris already fly non-stop on the route.

Source: Cirium Dashboard