Aeromexico makes Tampa its newest city as DOT head winds loom

Aeromexico, Mexico’s flag carrier, has been making significant strides in expanding its presence in the United States. Despite facing regulatory challenges regarding its partnership with Delta Air Lines, Aeromexico is forging ahead with plans to launch new routes, including a service between Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Mexico City International Airport (MEX).

The airline announced that it will begin operating daily flights between TPA and MEX starting on July 1, using a 99-seat Embraer E190 jet for the route. This new service is made possible by the close alliance between Aeromexico and Delta Air Lines, which aims to provide passengers with more convenient travel options between Mexico and the United States.

Delta Air Lines currently owns around 20% of Aeromexico, and the two airlines have a joint venture agreement in place for flights between the two countries. The partnership has allowed Aeromexico to significantly expand its presence in the U.S. market, with the addition of new routes to cities such as Atlanta, Boston, McAllen, Raleigh-Durham, and Washington, D.C.

However, Aeromexico’s expansion efforts have been met with challenges from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which recently expressed concerns about the close relationship between Aeromexico and Delta. The DOT tentatively decided not to renew its approval of the airlines’ antitrust immunity agreement, which could potentially lead to the dissolution of their joint venture.

The DOT cited issues with the Mexican government’s management of takeoff and landing slots at MEX, claiming that the process has been opaque and anti-competitive. This has given Aeromexico an unfair advantage over other airlines operating in the region, leading to concerns about the lack of competition in the market.

Additionally, the DOT raised concerns about infrastructure problems at MEX, including a reduction in air cargo operations and the need for renovations to accommodate a higher number of flights. Despite these challenges, the Mexican government has not provided any concrete plans for improving the airport’s infrastructure, raising further questions about the future of air travel in the region.

In response to the DOT’s order, Delta strongly objected, arguing that the dissolution of the partnership would result in higher fares and the loss of significant consumer benefits. The airline warned that nearly two dozen routes between the U.S. and Mexico could be at risk of cancellation, and capacity would be reduced on several other routes.

Delta also highlighted the potential negative impact on consumers, communities, and competition if the partnership were to be dissolved. The airline urged the DOT to reconsider its decision and proposed alternative solutions to address the regulatory concerns raised by the Mexican government.

As the deadline for dissolving the partnership approaches, both Aeromexico and Delta are evaluating their options and considering the potential implications of the DOT’s decision. It remains to be seen how the two airlines will navigate this challenging regulatory environment and continue to provide reliable and affordable air travel options for passengers traveling between Mexico and the United States.

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