MCALLEN, Texas – Aeromar could increase its Monterrey to McAllen nonstop flights to three times a day if the demand is there.
This is the view of Fabricio W. Cojuc, the airline’s executive director of network strategy and alliances.
The Monterrey-McAllen flights have just started operating. They are year‐round, currently on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, featuring state of the art ATR 72‐600 equipment seating 72 passengers.
They depart McAllen at 13:15 and arrive in Monterrey at 14:15. Return flights depart Monterrey at 15:10 and arrive in McAllen at 16:10.
Cojuc gave an exclusive interview about the Monterrey-McAllen route to the Rio Grande Guardian. He said the coronavirus pandemic hit Aeromar hard at first.
“A year ago we were doing one flight a week (from Mexico City) to McAllen and we were very close to suspending the route. We stayed at one flight a week for about two and a half months. Then, slowly but surely we started rebuilding to two to three and now we are running even a double daily service to Mexico City, and now, Monterrey on top of that. In certain days in May we will be having four departures out of McAllen to Mexico.”
Cojuc said the current ban on non-essential travel across the U.S.-Mexico land ports of entry allowed Aeromar to start thinking of flights between Monterrey and McAllen.
“There was a lot of pent up demand, and, of course, the circumstances right now, with the bridges being closed, this is making people more interested in air service. Our ATRs are ideally suited to these short hops. It is only about 150 miles, a 45-minute flight time down to Monterrey,” Cojuc said,
“So, our flights are perfect, they are tailor-made for this sort of route. Now that we are rotating more planes through here. The logistics are such that we can combine the aircraft, we can rotate them with a lot of flexibility and so we can adjust our schedule as necessary. We can even run triple daily if necessary. But, we are not there yet.”
Cojuc said the idea of operating a service between Monterrey and McAllen is not a new one.
“This route has been in the works for many years, going back to 2013 when we started the McAllen to Mexico City service. We were already talking about Monterrey as a natural, except, you know, there is a lot of, how can I say, people are used to driving. It is a car and bus market, is how I would describe it. The circumstances have changed it.”
The big question is whether demand for flights between Monterrey and McAllen will remain high once tourists can start driving between the two cities.
“Will this demand be a bubble that will burst? Maybe a little bit. But I think once people have tried flying by air, they will keep doing it,” Cojuc said.
“Our rates are reasonable because of the economics of our aircraft. Because we can fill 72 seats. It is a challenge but we can fill them.”
Cojuc noted that there are advantages to flying between Monterrey to McAllen.
“There is a segment of the market that will appreciate the convenience and maybe even the safety of flying versus driving. Mexico, unfortunately, has some issues with road safety. So, a fraction of that demand will stay, I believe. It will stick, I believe, and that will make our flights sustainable in the long run,” Cojuc said.
“Will we be able to run daily or double daily? Probably not, but I believe it can sustain at least three to four flights a week in the long run. Yes, we are very confident about that.”
Cojuc added: “We are very appreciative of the City of McAllen’s officers and leadership for their support of our service. It has been a terrific partnership. We have built this together. We do not make any decisions unilaterally. We always consult and this has really made it a tremendous success for us.”
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said: “The relationship between our communities is vital and will only flourish with our new nonstop flight. Our airport is leading the region in creating these connections. We are grateful for our partnership with Aeromar and we are excited about future opportunities to connect with Mexico and beyond.”
Steve Ahlenius, president of McAllen Chamber of Commerce, said a strong partnership between Aeromar and the City of McAllen has developed over many years.
“That is the secret sauce for McAllen. It is the ability to work together, whether it is the chamber, the City, the school district, MEDC, those folks willing to come together to do what is right for McAllen. That has been the key to our success,” Ahlenius said.
“Also, these things do not happen overnight. In the 1930s the Chamber started doing friendship caravans into Mexico with the idea of building relationships with Mexico, recognizing the importance of Mexico to our economy. We are one of the few cities that generates over one billion dollars in sales from Mexican nationals that come to spend money here. It is an important part of the economy and it is an important part of the relationship and it is an important part of our success in the past and also going forward”
Ahlenius added: “It all goes back to that idea of partnerships and recognizing that we cannot do things alone, especially in the 21st Century. Working together makes us better and makes us stronger. I praise Roy and the leadership for taking risks. Things don’t happen by not taking risks. Sometimes elected officials get criticized for taking risks. But, I will tell you, the only way we are going to bring about change and create opportunities is by taking risks.”
The “Roy” Ahlenius was referencing was Roy Rodriguez, city manager of McAllen.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story show McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Fabricio W. Cojuc, Aeromar’s executive director of network strategy and alliances.
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