Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris will introduce the first scheduled international air service to Reno-Tahoe International Airport this Millennium when it introduces a twice weekly flight from Guadalajara in December, subject to final clearance of landing rights from the US Customs and Border Protection. Putting the ‘International’ name back in the airport’s title, it will be the first scheduled international air service at Reno since 1999.
Having already secured a strong position in the domestic Mexican market, Volaris has been focussing on developing its international network. With the addition of its new service to Reno and previously announced link to Fort Lauderdale it will serve 17 international destinations with 38 routes by year-end. These are targeted at travellers wishing to visit friends and family on both sides of the border providing better travel options for the Hispanic communities in these regions.
The carrier has already announced eleven new routes between Mexico and the United States so far in the second half of the year and its international focus is clear in its latest traffic results. In the first nine months of this year the carrier boosted international RPMs by 16.7 per cent and ASMs by 18.4 per cent, boosting international passenger numbers by 18.9 per cent to 1.3 million.
The new Guadalajara – Reno service is due to launch on December 16, 2014 and will operate on Tuesdays and Fridays. It will be Volaris’ second link into Nevada and complement its flights to Las Vegas from Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Cancun. Reno, in Washoe County, is the third largest city in Nevada with a population of more than 233,000, of which 24.3 per cent are of Hispanic descent, according to US Census Bureau 2013 statistics.
The announcement of the route is the culmination of months of work between Volaris and a dedicated group of Reno-Tahoe partners including the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSVCA), local hotels, casinos and ski resorts, the Hispanic Chamber and Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado.
The airport has worked closely with NCOT to develop key relationships in Mexico, while Reno-Tahoe hotel, casino and ski partners have offered room deals for the new international travellers. The Hispanic Chamber has been working with the airport to connect with the local Latino population to generate interest in the proposed route. The flight will bring an estimated $20 million in economic impact to the region each year.
"Route expansion focused on our core customer and service strengths is key to the success of the Volaris Ultra Low-Cost Carrier model. The switch from bus to air travel remains an unprecedented opportunity in air travel, and we continue to make progress gaining new air travel customers based on low fares and providing a high quality travel experience,” said Enrique Beltranena, chief executive officer, Volaris. “We will continue to expand our route network to both meet and build market demand."
Mexico is currently the largest international market from Reno with around 42,000 bid-directional O&D passengers flying to or from destinations in the country in 2013, despite no direct air services. Guadalajara is the largest individual market in the country, accounting for around 12,000 annual passengers.
This week Volaris has expanded its operational network with the launch on October 6, 2014 of flights between Guadalajara and Portland, Oregon. The twice weekly link is Volaris’ first incursion into the Oregon market, a region of approximately 3.9 million residents, according to US Census Bureau statistics with over 12.3 per cent of the population of Hispanic descent.
“The US is the largest market of its kind in the world, which is why we are firmly committed to meeting the connectivity needs it generates,” said Enrique Beltranena. “We will achieve this by offering low fares that enable us to compete with bus transportation, reducing travel time for those who spend more than 40 hours on the road to reach their travel locations.”
These new international services further strengthen the airline’s leadership in the Guadalajara market, where the carrier already holds the top spot in terms of seats and destinations, flying to 17 international and 18 national cities. From Mexico’s Perla Tapatía, Volaris has carried over 13.9 million passengers since its debut at Guadalajara International Airport in 2006 - 10.4 million domestic and 3.5 million international passengers.
In our analysis we highlight the rise of Volaris in the Mexican domestic and international markets since its launch in 2005. The data shows that the carrier’s domestic capacity has grown 94.6 per cent between 2009 and 2013 and is forecasted to rise a further 9.3 per cent in 2014, based on published schedules. In the international market, Volaris’ capacity from Mexico is due to grow a massive 16.6 per cent this year. The chart, below, highlights the carrier’s marketshare in Mexico’s domestic and international markets since 2009.