Cancun Recovers To Pre-Pandemic Passenger Levels

The Cancun International Airport (CUN) has restored its pre-pandemic passenger levels, according to the latest data available. Due to the lack of travel restrictions in Mexico, the new tendencies by travelers worldwide and the availability of flights to Cancun, the Mexican destination has been poised to take advantage of the current crisis. Let’s investigate further.

Cancun International Airport has restored the number of passengers it had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foto: Guillermo Quiroz Martínez via @gquimar.

How many travelers has Cancun received in 2021?

Cancun is Mexico’s second most important airport, after Mexico City International Airport. Moreover, it is the main international gateway into the country, due to its leisure appeal.

In 2021, Cancún International Airport has received 15.6 million passengers in total. This number represents a 19.5% decrease compared to 2019, prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Domestically, the hub is only 2.4% below its pre-pandemic numbers, while international it is still 28.5% below.

Nevertheless, when we look only at September’s numbers, the airport has recovered and even grown both in its domestic and international markets.

During September, CUN received 727,985 domestic passengers, a 3.7% increase compared with 2019’s same month. Meanwhile, the hub received 1.66 million international travelers, a 4.4% growth. Cancun is back and growing once again.

Cancun is Mexico’s main international gateway in 2021. Photo: Getty Images.

Who’s flying to Cancun?

Mexico never closed. The Mexican air borders have been fully open for international travelers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (the ground borders are a whole other story).

This decision by the Mexican Government allowed the airlines to restore more quickly their capacity to key destinations like Cancun. Other important Mexican leisure cities are San José del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta; both have also regained their pre-pandemic traffic levels.

Moreover, the COVID pandemic led to a change in passenger behavior. Instead of looking to travel to congested cities, the tourist is now going to open spaces, and Cancun has become the perfect spot.

According to Cirium, CUN offers 18.6% more flights and 23.2% more seats than it did two years ago.

Currently, 50 airlines are offering flights to Cancun. The Mexican carriers Volaris and Viva Aerobus lead the way with 2,460 and 2,034 flights respectively in October, according to Cirium.

United Airlines and American Airlines are also offering over a thousand flights (1,158 and 1,150) respectively, during this month.

American Airlines Getty
American Airlines is in the top 4 Cancun airlines, by the number of flights offered. Photo: Getty Images

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What new airlines have arrived, and which ones are gone?

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, some airlines have stopped flying to Cancun. Nevertheless, there are others that have launched new routes to this destination.

Among the ones that have stopped flying there is Interjet. The Mexican leisure carrier ceased operations on December 10, 2020. It is currently in a bankruptcy process and most likely will never fly again. Prior to the pandemic, Interjet operated more than 1,700 monthly flights to Cancun.

Other airlines that have stopped flying to the city are Aeromexico Connect (the Embraer branch; Aeromexico is instead using Boeing 737 and even 787 aircraft on this route from Mexico City), Canadian North, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Cubana, GOL, XL Airways, and SunExpress.

On the other side, there are a few airlines that have launched flights to Cancun. For instance, the Colombian low-cost carrier, Viva. Other examples are TAP Portugal, Austrian, Volaris El Salvador, LATAM Brazil, Sky Peru, Alaska Airlines, and TAG Guatemala.

Are you surprised about Cancun’s recovery? Let us know in the comments below.