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April 18, 2017

Air Travel: Streamlined Customs in Mexico City, JetBlue Into Haiti

Photo by Kritchanut/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

From new airport policies to new flights, here are the latest air travel developments to watch in the meetings and events industry. 

Mexico Airports Simplify Customs Process With New Program

Mexico City is testing a new customs program that would eliminate luggage checks and customs declarations.

The Tax Administration Service (SAT) is implementing the new program, which aims to expedite the entry process of international visitors. It will apply to foreign travelers, who will no longer be required to make a customs declaration.

The testing at Benito Juarez International Airport (also known as Mexico City International Airport) began this month at Terminal 2 with the removal of the red light/green light traffic signal for foreign baggage. SAT also entirely eliminated the customs declaration process.

In a statement, SAT said that luggage will be checked with mobile x-ray equipment during the plane transfer from the plane to where passengers collect their luggage. Those who bring additional merchandise in their luggage would only pay by claiming the items. The x-ray scanning process would be in conjunction with the Federal Police.

The SAT is hoping to implement the same model at Terminal 1 at the airport, and then—eventually—into the customs facilities of the international airports in Los Cabos, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Cancun. Combined, the airports accommodate 85 percent of international passengers arriving in Mexico.

More than 5.8 million international passengers entered Mexico during January and February of this year, an increase of 4.1 percent over last year. SAT decided the simpler customs programs would better facilitate and encourage travelers, maintaining their interest in the region.

As part of the new program, the airports would modernize their facilities using the latest technology.

JetBlue Adds Flights From Orlando to Haiti

In new flight news, JetBlue has announced its intent to operate service between Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) later this year. 

JetBlue intends to launch this route, which currently does not have nonstop service, in December pending government approval. Seats are expected to go out for sale in the coming weeks.

Orlando will become JetBlue’s fourth focus city with service to Port-au-Prince. JetBlue currently offers nonstop flights to the Haitian destination from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). JetBlue operates nearly a third of its capacity in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Alaska Airlines Continues Expansion With New Flights to Dallas and Seattle

In the United States, Alaska Airlines is continuing its expansion on the West Coast with the announcement of new flights to Dallas Love Field and the inauguration of new flights from its Seattle hub.

Along with merger partner Virgin America, Alaska Airlines is expanding its service to Dallas Love Field from four West Coast airports: Seattle; San Diego; Portland, Oregon; and San Jose, California. The new routes mean that the combined airline will serve eight destinations from Love Field with 18 daily peak season departures, an increase of 40 percent, Alaska Airlines said.

The new flights will begin to roll out starting at the end of August through October and into February of next year. Three-class jets will fly the route. The Embraer 175 jet, operated by SkyWest Airlines, will fly daily to Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle. One of the two daily flights to Seattle will be operated by Virgin America using an A320 family aircraft. All guests flying the new routes will be able to enjoy Free Chat, free movies, premium food and beverages, Wi-Fi and advance seat selection, Alaska Airlines said.

In addition to the new flights, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have also announced plans to streamline their route network at Love Field. Starting this summer, Virgin America jets will be replaced with a 76-seat E175 jet in two Love Field markets – New York's LaGuardia Airport and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. On August 27, three-times daily service to New York's LaGuardia Airport will operate using an E175 and increase to four daily flights on October 28. Starting February 18, twice-daily service to Reagan National Airport will also be replaced with an E175. The third daily Love Field-Washington Reagan National daily trip will continue to be operated by Virgin America until March 11, when SkyWest will take over the evening flight. As part of these schedule changes, Virgin America will permanently exit Love Field-Las Vegas on August 26.

The moves come as Alaska Airlines inaugurates new nonstop flights from Seattle to San Luis Obispo, California, and Wichita, Kansas. The airline will operate daily flights to each destination.

Alaska will fly the new routes with 76-seat E175 jets, operated by SkyWest Airlines, which feature 12 seats in first class, 12 seats in premium class and 52 seats in the main cabin.

Stay tuned to www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest air travel updates affecting the meetings and events industry. 

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