United Airlines Has Been Allocated Additional Mexico City Slots

The Mexico City International Airport (AICM) awarded United Airlines an extra slot pair. The airline will use it to increase its frequency of services from San Francisco, California from two to three daily flights. Let’s see what this means.

United Airlines A319
Mexico City Airport awarded United Airlines an extra slot. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr.

How it will work?

United will launch this new frequency on April 26, 2020, as it was reported first by CH-Aviation. The carrier started selling its tickets for this new frequency a few days ago, on 8 February.

In a filing to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), United said,

“United is now filing this notice, in the interest of full transparency, to inform the Department that the AICM [Mexico City Int’l] slot coordinator recently responded to United’s long-pending request for a slot pair and has provided United its requested Mexico City slot for the summer season.”

Currently, United Airlines flies to Mexico City from Chicago, Houston, Newark, and Washington Dulles, besides San Francisco. It has 2% of the market share by weekly seating capacity in Mexico’s City airport.

United Airlines
United Airlines has 2% of the market share in Mexico City. Photo: United

There were available slots after the exit of JetBlue

We all know that Mexico City International Airport is operating beyond its capabilities. Since 2013, the airport has been saturated, yet one way or another it has managed to grow in the last few years. In 2019, the hub received 50 million 304 thousand passengers. It posted a growth of 7.1% in the domestic market, while the international market had a growth of 2.6%.

There’s not much room left at the airport. That’s why airlines like Aeromexico are weighing up renewing their fleets with bigger aircraft, while other carriers are focusing on other Mexican hubs like Cancun. Also, US airlines like American and United are focusing on point-to-point routes that connect smaller cities like Puebla or Oaxaca with big hubs like Houston.

The Mexican government has performed miracles to allocate new airlines such as Emirates and Turkish with daily flights to Mexico City. But, for other carriers, even those with a long history of operations in the country, this hasn’t been the case. So, for United to get a new slot at the AICM is a big win.

And where did it came from? Maybe it was JetBlue’s. Last month, the low-cost carrier ended its own Mexico City services and returned six pairs of slots. JetBlue previously received these slots after the DOT ordered Delta and Aeromexico to drop them in 2017.

San Francisco Airport
We don’t know if this third frequency is only for the summer season. Photo: United

Will it be a yearly frequency?

The biggest issue right now for United Airlines is that this new slot is only granted for the summer season.

In a filing to the DOT, the carrier said that “is at risk of not being able to operate its planned third flight on a year-round basis. Therefore, United urges the Department to recognize its eligibility for the Delta/Aeroméxico divested slots and grant it the requested divested slot pair to ensure United has a slot to continue operating year-round service.”

Finally, let’s add that only United and Aeromexico operate direct flights between San Francisco and Mexico City.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.