Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Wed August 24 2016

Flights To Mexico Are About to Get Much Cheaper

Airlines & Airports | Paul Thompson | August 24, 2016

Flights To Mexico Are About to Get Much Cheaper

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U.S. and Mexican government regulators have recently agreed to remove limits on the numbers of airlines and flights that can go between our two countries, and airlines are already jumping on opportunities to expand, while announcing new flights between previously unserved cities.

The increase in flight options is expected to make it even cheaper to fly to Mexico. Airlines have been flying to and from Mexico for ages, but have been at the mercy of the governments of both countries in terms of the lack of options when choosing an airline.

Thomas Engle, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for transportation, said airlines on both sides of the border will now be able to fly whatever routes they want as often as they want and set their own prices. When airlines can set their own prices, it breeds competition resulting in potentially lower fares for travelers.

Starting Nov. 4, American Airlines will start service from Miami to Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatán. American will also start new service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.

READ MORE: Yummy Yucatan: Foodie Highlights in Merida, Mexico

On Dec. 4, Southwest will launch new flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta. Next February, they’ll also be adding Oakland to Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas. Some promotional fares for the new service were as low as $258 round trip.

Starting Dec. 17, Delta will be launching service from New York JFK to Cancun, along with Cancun to Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas). It will also start flights from Kansas City to Cancun on Saturdays.

Engle said the relaxation of restrictions should not only increase opportunities for American travelers, but also increase Mexican tourism to the United States. "We think it will help drive economic growth in sectors well beyond aviation, including tourism and manufacturing," he said.

READ MORE: 7 Great Things to Do In Puerto Vallarta

The impact for Mexican airlines may be even stronger. Mexico only has four airlines, and three of them are relatively new. Interjet was started in 2005, and didn’t start U.S. service until 2012. Volaris began in 2006, with international flights commencing in 2009. Viva Aerobús also began in 2006, and is co-owned by the same family that owns Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair. The longest-running Mexican airline is AeroMexico, in business since 1988. AeroMexico and Mexicana once dominated the industry in their country, but Mexicana ceased operation in 2010, after filing for bankruptcy. It may strain the resources of these airlines to now go toe to toe with the deep pockets of U.S. carriers.

This situation is a lot like the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in the 1970s, when the government controlled which airlines were flying certain routes, and how much they were allowed to charge customers. Flights to Mexico City are still tightly controlled due to the limitations on the number of flights the airport is able to handle, so for now, the expansion will be focused on resort cities. 

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