Mexico's Volaris has unveiled plans to launch services later this month to Chicago, its first new US destination since Mexico's return to a category one FAA safety rating.

Volaris announced on 2 December that it will operate one daily flight to Chicago Midway from Guadalajara starting 13 December.

The low-cost carrier in March was authorised by the US DOT to serve the Guadalajara-Chicago and Guadalajara-San Jose, California markets. But while Volaris elected to go ahead and launch service to San Jose at the end of April it put on hold the possible launch of flights to Chicago.

In July Mexico was downgraded by the FAA to category two, making it impossible for Volaris or any other Mexican carriers to launch new routes to the US. The FAA on 1 December reinstated Mexico's category one status and Volaris quickly reacted by putting in place plans to launch Guadalajara-Chicago within two weeks.

The Guadalajara-Chicago market is currently only served by Aeromexico, which according to Innovata operates five weekly Boeing 737 flights from Guadalajara to Chicago's O'Hare airport. Chicago O'Hare was also a major market for Mexicana, which suspended operations in August.

Chicago Midway is a major base for Volaris' US partner Southwest Airlines. The two carriers on 1 December implemented a codeshare-like connecting product at Volaris' three existing US gateways - San Jose, Los Angeles and Oakland.

Volaris has the capacity to expand its US operation as it is placing into service three additional Airbus A319s by year-end, giving it a fleet of 26 A320 family aircraft. The additional aircraft are mainly being used to expand its domestic operation, including more flights from Mexico City International airport.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news