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November 7, 2017

Air Travel: Hurricanes Slow Growth; New Flights to Mexico

iata air travel chart

The IATA's report on Hurricanes Irma and Maria's impact on air travel, plus a number of new flights, lead this week's air travel news in the meetings and events industry.

Hurricanes Slow Air Travel Growth

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for September showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 5.7 percent compared to the same month in 2016. This was the slowest year-on-year increase since February. Hurricanes Irma and Maria weighed heavily on the results, although growth already had been tapering. Capacity climbed 5.3 percent and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage points to 81.6 percent, which was a record for the month of September.

"September’s growth in passenger demand was healthy, notwithstanding the heavy impacts of extreme weather events on the Americas," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. "Global economic conditions support rising passenger demand, but with higher cost inputs, the demand stimulation from lower fares has waned, suggesting a moderating trend in traffic growth."    

Alaska Airlines Starts Nonstop Service Between San Diego and Mexico City

Alaska Airlines has begun nonstop service between San Diego and Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. San Diego is the third West Coast city to see nonstop service to Mexico's largest metropolitan city with Los Angeles and San Francisco added in August 2017. Alaska Airlines is now offering more than 100 flights a week to Mexico from California, more than any other U.S. carrier.

The year-round, nonstop service is the ninth destination Alaska Airlines serves to Mexico. The other destinations with service from California include Cancun, Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo, Loreto, Los Cabos, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. The airline began flying to Mexico in 1988, and has been expanding its service since then.

Southwest Launches New Flights to Cancun in 2018 Schedule

Southwest Airlines has released its flight schedule for the summer of 2018.The published schedule goes through August 6, 2018, and includes new options in California and San Antonio, more international service like new gateways to Cancun, and domestic service adjustments. Here is everything travelers need to know about the new schedule.


Beginning July 15, 2018, the carrier will offer daily nonstop service between:

  • Oakland and Indianapolis.
  • Oakland and Minneapolis.
  • Oakland and Orlando.

Southwest is also launching the Southwest California Millions Rapid Rewards bonus points sweepstakes, Instagram challenge, and special events, giving Californians the chance to win up to 100 million Rapid Rewards bonus points.

San Antonio

For the first time, beginning on July 8, 2018, the carrier will offer nonstop service daily between:

  • San Antonio and Oakland.
  • San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale.

Also from San Antonio, Southwest will resume its seasonal daily service to and from Cancun on June 7, 2018.

Service Adjustments in Michigan

Effective June 6, 2018, Southwest will no longer operate in Flint, Mich., though the carrier will still have destinations available from Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Increase in International Service

Southwest announced it is adding seasonal weekly service on Saturdays beginning June 9, 2018, between Houston and one of the carriers’ newest destinations, Grand Cayman. On Saturdays in June, Southwest will offer 18 flights between Houston and 10 international destinations.

The airline is also adding two new international gateways to Cancun because of growing demand for nonstop routes to the destination. Beginning Saturday, June 9, 2018, the carrier will offer seasonal service on Saturdays between:

  • Pittsburgh and Cancun.
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Cancun.

In June, Southwest will offer 27 departures to and from Cancun on Saturdays to 16 cities across the United States.

Beginning Sunday, June 10, 2018, Southwest will add service between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Nassau, The Bahamas, building on its Saturday service and daily service between Ft. Lauderdale and Nassau.

New and Resuming Seasonal Service

On June 7, 2018, Southwest will resume daily service in these seasonal markets:

  • Denver and Charleston, S.C.
  • Chicago and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Omaha and Orlando.

On June 9, 2018, the carrier will offer new seasonal service on Saturdays between:

  • Boise and Dallas.
  • Denver and Panama City, Fla.
  • Tulsa and Orlando.

Southwest Airlines Launches Service to Turks and Caicos

Finally, this week Southwest Airlines began operating new international service daily from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Providenciales International Airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the carrier’s 11th country served.

Southwest has also initiated new service between its South Florida gateway at FLL and both San Jose, Costa Rica and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Now, the airline has nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to 10 destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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