According to data from the Mexican Secretary of Tourism (Sectur), Cancun is the number one destination in Mexico for travelers arriving on international flights.
American Airlines is their airline of choice, leading all airlines in total passengers to Mexico.
In early 2023, American Airlines brought over 1.3 million people to Mexico, making it responsible for 14.4% of total international arrivals and making it the U.S. airline with the most flights to Cancun.
This represents a 35.7% increase in relation to the same period in 2022, compared to an average 19.8% increase in arrivals from U.S.-based airlines.
American Airlines got a boost last winter when it added new non-stop flights between Cancun and major U.S. cities, including Columbus, OH, Kansas City, MO, and St. Louis, MO.
Over 11 million people have flown from Dallas to Cancun this year, making it the most traveled route into Mexico. American Airlines is headquartered in Dallas, and there are 50 weekly flights to Cancun leaving Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
United Airlines has brought over 900,000 people to Mexico in 2023 so far, making it the second-highest-performing U.S.-based airline and the third-highest-performing overall. United is followed by Delta, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines.
The largest riser on the list was Spirit Airlines, which has seen a nearly 50% increase in international passengers to Mexico compared to last year.
Overall, U.S.-based airlines have been responsible for more than half of the total passenger arrivals in Mexico.
Aeroméxico has overtaken Volaris as the highest-performing Mexican airline and has brought the second-highest number of people into Mexico this year.
Nevertheless, Mexican airlines account for under 25% of total arrivals into the country.
Aeroméxico and Volaris have been unable to add new flights to and from the United States since 2021 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico to a category 2 ranking for failing to comply with security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Peter Cerdá, Vice President for the Americas at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said that regaining the category 1 rating is “the sector’s number one goal” and that he expected it to happen by the end of this year.
West Jet led all Canadian airlines in passengers to Mexico, with over 400,000 arrivals. Sunwing, Air Transat, and Swoop Airlines were among the other notable airlines with direct services to Mexico.
While Canadian airlines were responsible for just over 10% of international passengers to Mexico, they have seen incredible growth compared to last year.
Each of the aforementioned airlines has seen an increase of over 100% in passengers arriving in Mexico compared to 2022. Swoop Airlines has been particularly noteworthy, bringing more than 265% more people into the country than the year before.
Canadian airlines have taken over 150% more passengers to Mexico than they did at the start of 2022.
Cancun as a Destination
Cancun has been the number one destination for international arrivals into Mexico thus far this year. In January alone, just under 1 million visitors arrived in Cancun from abroad.
Cancun also leads the way in scheduled passengers, with over 11 million people who have already planned their trips.
These numbers highlight the trend of people continuing to travel to Cancun despite security concerns.
The United States issued a travel advisory this March, warning Americans to increase caution while traveling in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum for spring break.
Nevertheless, travelers have been undeterred.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a recent press conference that Americans continue to flock to Cancun despite the travel advisory.
“The State Department has [issued travel advisories for] 30 of the 32 [Mexican] states, but the country is full of Americans,” said President López Obrador. “Quintana Roo is full. Cancun is full of Americans.”
The President was firm in his declaration that Mexico is safe for tourists, saying “we do not accept when foreign legislators say that you cannot visit Mexico.”
Nevertheless, the United States issues travel advisories for countries across the globe, and the existence of an advisory does not mean that you cannot travel to a location.
There is currently a level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) advisory for Quintana Roo, the state in which Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum are located.
A level 2 advisory is not necessarily meant to discourage travel to a location. France and the United Kingdom are amongst many countries with level 2 advisories.
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