U.S. airlines are wagering that American tourists will keep flocking to Cancun despite Trump’s negative campaign agaisnt Mexico and a previous travel warning from the State Department.
Southwest Airlines Co., Spirit Airlines Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. are adding flights to the resort. United Continental Holdings Inc. is using one of its biggest jets once a week to ply the Chicago-Cancun route.
The extra flights suggest stable growth in U.S. tourism even after the State Department said turf wars between crime gangs were fueling a surge in violence in two Mexican states, including the one where Cancun is located. Mexico’s top beach destination potentially could also pick up visitors from other Caribbean destinations that suffered severe hurricane damage.
“It’s quickly become our largest international market,” Steven Swan, Southwest’s director of international planning, said of Cancun. It’s common for traffic to rebound after briefly dipping on travel warnings, he said. “People tend to have a relatively short-term memory.”
From the airlines’ perspective, Cancun flights are good business because of their lower costs, high passenger counts and heavy sales of booze, said Mark Drusch, a consultant and former airline executive. American Airlines Group Inc. has more flights into Cancun than any other international destination, American spokeswoman Kristen Foster said.
International passenger traffic to Mexico’s largest resort has climbed since the U.S. State Department’s Aug. 22 travel warning. It rose 6.3 percent in November from a year earlier and has increased more than 8 percent this year, according to the regional airport’s operator.
Without a doubt, some of the news coming out of Mexican beach towns this year has been grim. Innocent bystanders in Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, and some other Mexican destinations have been caught up in shooting battles between criminal gangs, the U.S. advisory noted. Five people died eleven months ago at a nightclub in Playa del Carmen near Cancun.