Even though it may seem like travel demand will not return to its higher pre-pandemic levels for a long time,…
Volaris To Resume Several Routes Between Mexico and US
Volaris is resuming a large number of transborder services between Mexico and the U.S. in August. Mexico’s largest low-cost carrier will be strengthening its operations in Mexico, the U.S. and Costa Rica, operating more flights, and resuming a number of point-to-point services to multiple destinations across Mexico.
Volaris is also extending its flexible booking option for travelers, allowing travelers to add a More Flexibility combo to their reservation. The add-on product allows travelers to make an unlimited number of changes to their reservation, paying only the difference in cost.
“Families are looking to get together after this lockdown [phase], so we are giving [them] the opportunity to do it, and even better, in a sanitized environment that is [more up-to-standard] than the one they find on [intercity] buses, with super low fares,” said Miguel Aguíñiga, Volaris’ Director of Market Development.
With the anticipated increase in operations and passenger activity, Volaris is operating a strict biosafety protocol to keep its passengers and frontline staff safe. The airline now requires face coverings and body temperature checks for all travelers, disinfection of aircraft with industrial-grade disinfectants and HEPA filters that refresh cabin air every three minutes.
Volaris operates more services between the U.S. and Mexico than any other carrier, flying to 21 cities in the U.S. before the pandemic. In March, when the Mexican government officially declared a “sanitary emergency,” the airline indefinitely suspended a majority of its services to the U.S. leaving Aeromexico to be the only Mexican carrier operating service to Mexico’s capital — Mexico City — from the U.S. From March to late June, the airline operated a majority of its few transborder operations from its Guadalajara hub.
Service to Mexico City resumed July, beginning with Oakland, California; Chicago and Los Angeles. In conjunction, Viva Aerobus launched service to Mexico City from Los Angeles and Houston during the same month as well.
In August, Volaris will not only be strengthening its hub operations at Guadalajara and Mexico City, but it will begin resuming its point-to-point routes between the U.S. and Mexico, flying to non-hub destinations in Mexico such as Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Durango, Leon/Guanajuato, Morelia, Oaxaca and Zacatecas.
“Volaris is a point-to-point airline which serves mainly the VFR traffic, so the main reason to resume service in those markets is to give back, as soon as possible, the option to our clients to travel from their origin to their destination with a direct flight, without the necessity of the stop in one of the (hub cities),” Aguíñiga said.
Volaris intends to fly 70% of its capacity in August, a total of 141 routes, and 62 destinations — 40 of those destinations being in Mexico. In the U.S., the airline will be resuming operations and increasing flight frequencies to Los Angeles; Oakland; Chicago; Fresno, California; Sacramento, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Denver; Houston; San Jose; Ontario, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; Las Vegas; Dallas; Phoenix; Orlando; Miami and Reno, Nevada. Before the pandemic, the airline flew to 21 cities in the U.S. From Los Angeles International Airport, its largest operation outside Mexico, the airline served nine destinations in Mexico prior to the pandemic, along with three destinations in Central America.
Volaris is also resuming its Central America operations, flying between Mexico City and San Jose, Costa Rica this month. Authorities in El Salvador and Guatemala have not yet disclosed a date for the reopening of their international airports.
Aeromexico, a partner of Delta Airlines, is also set on resuming and increasing some U.S. services this month as well, including Las Vegas, Denver, San Francisco and Miami. The growth comes as the Mexican national carrier is restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which CEO Andrés Conesa claims would not affect operations.
Despite COVID-19’s detrimental impact on major carriers in Latin America, creating doubts about the continuity of operations for many carriers in the region, Volaris is optimistic about its post-pandemic strategy. The airline attributes its success during the pandemic to being able to carefully manage its capacity and preserve cash to make aircraft rental payments, along with paying employee wages and benefits. The airline even has a new fleet delivery schedule, and in July, received an Airbus A320neo.
As before, Volaris is seeking opportunities to reinvigorate the domestic travel market in Mexico. The low-cost carrier wants to compete with intercity buses in at least 40% of its network, and it hopes to do that by offering a successful point-to-point network with competitive fares. Intercity buses dominate domestic travel in most of the country, with key players like Omnibus de México, Autobuses del Oriente and ETN Turistar, offering frequent schedules and luxury amenities to compete with rising low-cost carriers.
“The company´s ultra-low-cost business model has a privileged competitive position and we are determined to take advantage of all the opportunities that appear to advance rapidly in benefit of our clients and shareholders,” Aguíñiga said.
Before the pandemic, Volaris intended to launch its first transborder service from its Cancún hub, flying non-stop to Los Angeles. Interjet was the only airline to operate the route for many years. However the airline had to eliminate this route, along with its entire international network, due to its financial troubles. Although the Cancún service didn’t come to fruition in May as planned, Volaris didn’t say it was yet off the drawing board. Volaris has its sights set on opportunities for future growth and has indicated that it is working to grow its U.S. presence.
“Right now the main focus of the recovery is to get back capacity we used to operate. So even though it’s not the priority, of course later we can consider the new route again,” Aguíñiga said.
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