Privately-owned Mexican regional carrier Aeromar is to resurrect international air services between Mexico City and the US city of McAllen, located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley in the American South. The route has been stopped and started on a number of previous occasions, but the independent carrier is confident it can make the link work, where others have previously failed.
Aeromar, initially established in Toluca in November 1987, moved its operations to Mexico City in April 1988 where its headquarters, maintenance base and operations are now located. It currently operates around 100 flights a day using a mixed fleet of 14 ATR 42s and two Bombardier CRJ200LRs on a range of domestic routes but has previously offered international links to Laredo and San Antonio, as well as a Houston service for Aeromexico.
The airline will introduce a five times weekly service on the Mexico City – McAllen route from March 18, 2013, although frequencies are due to reduce to three a week from April 8, 2013. In 2011 an estimated 4,000 O&D passengers travelled on the route despite the availability of direct air services. The largest traffic flows are currently via Houston on the services of United Airlines, although there are also flows via Dallas with American Airlines.
The route was historically served by Texas International Airlines on an up to twice daily basis using a Douglas DC-9 in the early 1980s up until its collapse in November 1982. It was then taken over by Continental Airlines (now part of United Airlines) with a daily schedule but the route was closed in September 1999. The flight was resumed in May 2004 through its ExpressJet regional partner using a 50-seat Embraer ERJ 145 but was again dropped in September 2007. In its final 12 months of flight operations an estimated 21,000 O&D passengers travelled on the route, highlighting the inherent demand.
McAllen has a growing population reaching 130,000 according to estimates last year. In an official 2010 census the figure was 129,877, up 22.0 per cent from the previous decade. It is a popular regional retail destination for Northeastern Mexican states and while its total population is 20th among Texas cities, it ranked 12th in overall retail sales and third in the State in total retail sales per household and per capita. McAllen is represented by 40 of America's top 100 retailers and the retail sales sector has become the driving force in McAllen's economy, growing a staggering 138 per cent over the last 10 years, to over $ 3.58 billion. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that at least 35 per cent of all retail sales in McAllen are purchased by visitors from Mexico.