Mexico, the North American country, is set to achieve a record milestone with over 100 million air passengers in 2022. So far this year, Mexico’s civil aviation has handled almost 70 million passengers, more than half of which are domestic travelers. Given the passenger growth rate remains stable for the rest of four months, 2022 will be the record year for Mexico, with the highest number of air passengers in the country.
Nearly 70 million air traffic so far.
Despite the havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Mexican civil aviation industry has succeeded in returning to its 2019 passenger levels. In fact, the air traffic growth rate appears to have accelerated from the pre-pandemic year by 2%. From January to August 2022, the country was just shy of 50 million air traffic from both domestic and international services. In the first eight months of 2022, the country handled a total of 69.73 million air traffic, of which 36.62 passengers were domestic, and the rest, 33.11 million, belonged to the international traveler category.
Mexican low-cost airline Volaris ferried the highest number of domestic travelers, i.e., 15.1 million, followed by another budget carrier Viva Aerobus (11.09 million), and the flagship airline Aeromexico. Other domestic carriers, Aeromar, Magnicharters, TAR Aerolineas, and Aereo Calafia, transported travelers in hundred thousand figures each.
With regards to international flying, Mexican carriers accounted for a quarter of total international passengers in the nation. Aeromexico and Volaris carried 3.68 million and 3.04 million international travelers, respectively, in the first eight months of 2022. The US-based airlines maintained dominance in this category, comprising over 50% of total passenger numbers in Mexico. Mexico is an integral part of US operators’ international network, with American Airlines solely holding 21.1% of the market share between the two countries.
In August, Mexico saw 9.4 domestic and international travelers, while in July, it received 10.04 million passengers who booked travel for Mexico’s summer vacations. The air transport data for Mexico is published by the country’s Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation-the federal entity for regulating commercial traffic and broadcasting.
The easy air connectivity, absence of travel restrictions, and the country’s popularity as an iconic tourism destination have allowed travel demand to largely recover in Mexico. Nonetheless, Mexico is not the only country to record higher passenger growth since 2019. The South American nations of Columbia and the Dominican Republic have made a strong recovery in air traffic and surpassed 2019 passenger levels.
Airports in Mexico
Mexico has five main international airports circulating over million passengers every year, namely Cancun International Airport, Mexico City International Airport, Guadalajara International Airport, Los Cabos International Airport, and Puerto Vallarta International Airport.
To ease the saturation levels at Mexico City International Airport, the Mexican government opened a second airport to serve Greater Mexico City in 2022. Felipe Angeles International Airport is the new airport in Mexico City that currently handles operations of a handful of airlines, including Aeromexico, Arajet, Conviasa, Copa Airlines, VivaAerobus, Volaris, etc. The new facility recorded nearly 50000 passenger movements in August and is likely to receive more traffic in October with 206 weekly flights to 17 destinations.
Top airlines in Mexico
Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and Aeromexico are the leaders in domestic air travel in Mexico, whereas international services are largely dominated by US carriers. American Airlines, which marked 80 years of service in Mexico this month, is the largest foreign operator in Mexico, accounting for the sole 21.1% of the market share in passenger transportation. The Fort/ Worth-based carrier has recorded a 40% increase in passenger capacity in comparison to the pre-pandemic year, ferrying 2.8 million passengers in the first sixth months of 2022 to/from 27 Mexican cities. Besides, Chicago-headquartered United Airlines and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines also operate most international departures from Mexican airports.
Headwinds facing the Mexican aviation industry
Despite a strong passenger recovery, there are several headwinds facing the Mexican aviation industry. All three major Mexican airlines have taken a tumble financially due to rising costs brought by burgeoning fuel prices and operational stumbles. None of these carriers managed to earn a profit in the first two quarters of 2022, despite the large rebounding of travel demand from the depths of COVID-19.
Another challenge is the restore Mexico’s FAA Safety Rating to Category 1. On May 25, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexican authorities to Category 2 status citing its failure to comply with ICAO safety standards. Unless Mexico’s Civil Aviation Federal Agency addresses deficiencies pointed out by International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) process, Mexico won’t regain its Category 1 status, which will significantly affect the growth of Mexican carriers.