US carrier Alaska Airlines is to boost its offering to California sun seekers with the planned expansion of its network into Mexico from the State. Pending approval from the Mexico Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), the carrier plans to launch non-stop links to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta from Orange County from early October 2015.
The proposed routes from John Wayne International Airport will complement the airline’s existing offering to the two Mexican destinations from Los Angeles and San Diego and will add to its current domestic links to the airport from Portland International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
"For years, Orange County residents have been able to fly Alaska to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta from either Los Angeles or San Diego. With Alaska's new non-stop service our Orange County customers can avoid heavy traffic and save time by flying directly out of John Wayne Airport," said John Kirby, vice president of capacity planning, Alaska Airlines.
Subject to final regulatory approval, Alaska Airlines will offer a four times weekly schedule between Orange County and San José del Cabo, in the Baja California Sur state, starting from October 8, 2015 and three times weekly between Orange County and Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta from October 9, 2015. Both routes will be flown using Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 equipment.
Alaska Airlines began flying to Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos more than 25 years ago. Today, the carrier operates 36 weekly peak-season flights to Puerto Vallarta and 50 weekly peak-season flights to Los Cabos - more than any other carrier from California.
The flights will place Alaska Airlines in direct competition with Southwest Airlines on both routes. The low-cost carrier inherited the Mexican operation from Orange County from AirTran Airways following its merger and alongside the three year-old routes to Mexico City and Los Cabos will see regular flights to Puerto Vallarta added from June this year.
In our analysis, we look more closely at bi-directional annual O&D demand between California and both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The data from Sabre Airline Solution’s Airport Data Intelligence shows sizeable point-to-point demand in these markets and a base demand of around 3,000 passengers per annum between Orange County and both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
However, it highlights how AirTran has stimulated demand with O&D demand between Orange County and Los Cabos growing to an estimated 44,000 annual passengers in 2012 and to over 80,000 in 2013 and 2014 once non-stop services were established.