By Albert Kuan
Volaris Announces Flights from Mexico City’s Newest International Airport
Mexican Low-Cost Carrier Volaris announced its decision Wednesday to commence operations out of Mexico City’s Felipe Ángeles International Airport beginning March 21, 2022. Volaris is the first airline to confirm plans to use the new international airport, located on Santa Lucía Air Force Base, deemed Mexico’s newest gateway.
Beginning March 21, 2022, the day the new airport is due to open, Volaris will operate once-daily service to and from Tijuana and Cancún. Volaris said the Tijuana and Cancún services will complement the Tijuana and Cancún services it currently operates out of Benito Juárez Airport.
Flights operating to and from Felipe Ángeles became available for booking upon the announcement.
“We have seen that only in the immediate area of the new airport there is a market of 4.8 million potential customers,” said Enrique Beltranena, Volaris’ Chief Executive Officer.
“Our leadership in the domestic Mexican market and experience in operational safety were crucial in the decision to reach (Felipe Ángeles International Airport) to continue democratizing air transport in Mexico.”
Although Volaris established it would operate out of both Benito Juárez and Felipe Ángeles, Volaris advised it would still maintain its Mexico City hub and crew base at Benito Juárez Aiport and continue its current operating strategy out of the airport. Earlier this month, the low-cost carrier launched a service to Colombia out of the airport.
Mexico City, the capital and financial center of Mexico, is the only city in the country to have multiple international airports. In addition to Felipe Ángeles, Toluca International Airport, located approximately 18 miles west of the city center, also serves the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. The secondary airport in Toluca has zero commercial airline activity and is now only being used for pilot flight training and private aviation. Until recently, the airport had scheduled services within the country operated by Volaris, VivaAerobus, and now-defunct Interjet.
Felipe Ángeles is located much further away – 28 miles north of the city center – and to address these concerns, the government has made sure the new airport would have ground connectivity and efficient public transportation. The airport will be well-connected with the city by a new airport rail link and newly-built highways. The airport rail link, an extension of Mexico City’s Tren Suburbano service, is scheduled to open in 2023 and will provide connections with the Mexico City Metro subway and Metrobús system at Buenavista Railway Station.
Benito Juárez Airport will still continue to hold the official title for “Mexico City International Aiport”, and within Mexico, the airport will still be referred to as AICM, the “international airport” of Mexico City – Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México. The Felipe Ángeles Airport is referred to officially as AIFA – Aeropuerto Internacional Felipe Ángeles.
The airport is being built by the Mexican army and there are less than 5 months until the passenger operations are scheduled to commence. The Mexican federal government began inviting different airlines and media groups in late August to survey and tour the new airport. Air Canada is the only airline thus far to rule out flying to Felipe Ángeles citing its completion schedule and operational viability as areas of concern.
On the other hand, the construction manager for Felipe Ángeles suggested there are already several airlines expressing interest in operating out of Felipe Ángeles. Volaris concluded it would be viable to operate from Felipe Ángeles beginning March 2022. The airline explained it reached its decision to operate from the new airport after an extensive analysis of the airport’s construction progress and its passenger, operational and maintenance facilities.
“It is an honor to receive the support of the fastest-growing airline in (Mexico) with the announcement of the first flights to (Felipe Ángeles International Airport). This firm decision is proof of the capacity that Volaris has shown to face the challenges and opportunities of the future of aviation in the country” General Gustavo Vallejo Suárez, head of construction for Felipe Ángeles Airport, said.
Felipe Ángeles Airport, along with Toluca Airport, is part of the Mexican government’s plan to reduce constraints at the overly-congested Benito Juárez Airport, which served 50.3 million passengers in 2019 before Covid-19. The government indicated earlier last month it would limit flight operations at Benito Juárez if airlines don’t voluntarily decide to use Felipe Ángeles.
Shortly after Volaris’ announcement Wednesday, VivaAerobus also confirmed plans to operate out of Felipe Ángeles Airport, being the second airline to confirm operating plans. VivaAerobus, however, has not announced its destinations from the new airport. Aeroméxico, Mexico’s flag carrier, has yet to confirm any plans.