During April, Cancun International Airport saw a sharp 99.5% decline in the number of international passengers due to the current coronavirus pandemic. It went from handling more than 50,000 international passengers a day to just 245. And things might not have hit bottom yet. Let’s investigate further.
The second most important airport in Mexico is in peril
The International Airport in Cancún is the second most important in Mexico. In 2019, the airport received more than 25 and a half million passengers. More than half of those passengers came from abroad.
In comparison, Mexico City International Airport remained last year as the top hub in the country. It had over 50 million passengers.
But there is a statistic where both airports go toe to toe: the international demand. In 2019, Cancun had 16 million 500 thousand international passengers, and Mexico had 17 million 500 thousand international passengers.
Now, with the air travel demand falling, both hubs have had their worst year-to-year performances in their histories. What may be more shocking is that May and June could have even darker passenger numbers as the pandemic continues to grow in Mexico. Currently, Mexico has 40,186 cases and 4,220 deaths.
Can it get worse?
Given the current uncertainty in the air travel industry, Cancun International Airport numbers could be worse. In April, the hub received almost 58,000 domestic passengers, representing a 92.2% decrease on a year-to-year basis. It means that the airport authorities received approximately 1,932 domestic passengers per day. This was due mainly because airlines in Mexico know that the route between Mexico City and Cancun is vital to the country. The top four airlines are maintaining their operations in the city, even Interjet with its Sukhoi fleet.
The airport received 7,349 international passengers last month. This adds to 245 a day. Nevertheless, more people have flown out of Cancun in recent days. According to the airport operator, ASUR, up to 332,000 international tourists were stuck in Cancun at the time of the outbreak. Their respective governments have repatriated up to 325,000.
But how can it get any worse?
On 12 May, ASUR reported that Cancun had only 22 scheduled operations during the whole day. This amount is just 7% of the regular number of operations and the worst performance since the outbreak began. Currently, the airport is only operating from one of its four terminals, due to the lack of demand.
Which airlines will continue to operate in Cancun?
Not every airline is as brave as TAP Air Portugal. The Portuguese carrier announced last month a direct flight to Cancun, while the rest of the world was struggling with current events.
It is very likely that, after all the pandemic ends, a lot of airlines will reduce its weekly flights to Cancun. For instance, according to La Jornada, UK travelers who usually flood the Mexican beaches are currently not very interested in traveling into Mexico. If this tendency keeps up, we could see some European airlines reducing their frequencies. We also have to remember what IATA said recently: long-haul travel will be the last to come back to its 2019 levels. It may happen as late as 2025.
Additionally, other countries, such as Japan, have issued warnings against traveling into Mexico due to the number of coronavirus cases.
Domestically, Cancun International Airport should bounce back quicker. The route Mexico City-Cancun is still the second most important in Latin America after Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro.
How can Cancun come back as a strong international hub? Let us know in the comments.