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Airlines serving the Canada-Mexico international niche
BEWARE: if you are not a Canadian citizen and you are planning on visiting Canada, you need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), before you book your flight. The following external link: Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) offers information on who needs to apply, and how to proceed to get your eTA.
The international Canada-Mexico market niche has been one of the most dynamic for a long time, though built on a solid base of the so-called ‘snowbirds’ who have been heading south to Mexico for many years. Since 2010, when the total passenger numbers travelling between Canada and Mexico was almost 1.9 million, the number in 2018 -of over 4.4 million- shows this niche has more than doubled over the period.
A testament to that fact is that Mexico received 1.92 million visitors from Canada -on only Canadian carriers- throughout 2017, according to figures released by Mexico’s Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM); the largest Canadian gateway to Mexico was Toronto, from where a total of 726,000 people visited Mexico by air.
The market continued its upward trend in 2018 -according to Mexico’s Communications and Transport Ministry (SCT)- the number of visitors arriving to Mexico on Canadian airlines reached the figure of 3.56 million, more or less doubling the increase registered over the previous four years.
Of the 4.4 mn passengers in the Canada-Mexico market in 2018, the two Mexican players contributed with 870,000 passengers. To give you an idea of the competition for passengers in this international niche -in June of 2018, a low point in the year- the respective flagship carriers of these two countries were the leaders: Aeroméxico transported 25% followed by Air Canada with 20% and -in third place- the Mexican LCC Interjet contributed with 16%.
During the first semester of 2019, the total numbers in this international niche were up 6.1% -over the same period last year- with an increase of 163,190 passengers, thus meaning the trend remains positive.
The Toronto-Cancun flight option is the most disputed route bewteen Canada and Mexico with 5 airlines competing, four Canadian and one Mexican carrier
Mexican airlines with direct flights to Canada
Mexico contributes to the Mexico-Canada market niche with two airlines providing direct flights from Mexico to Canada, together serving 4 Canadian destinations through two Mexican gateways. See below for the details of the city pairs they serve.
With regard to Mexicans visiting Canada, the number has been increasing impressively over the last couple of years. According to Jorge Morfin Stoopen, the director of ‘Destination Canada’ in Mexico, during an interview with reportur.com -in January, 2018- the year 2017 registered an annual increase of 47% over the 2016 number of Mexicans visiting the country, the year closing with over 360,000 visitors having arrived to Canada from the Mexican Republic.
Regarding 2018, the official site of ‘Destination Canada’ reported that over 400,000 Mexicans visited this North American neighbour for the first time, to be more precise: 404,400 passengers, thus more than doubling the number of arrivals from Mexico in 2015. it also reports that seat capacity between Mexico City and Canada increased by 35% in 2018, citing this increase as the largest registered among all Destination Canada’s international markets.
AEROMÉXICO in Canada
Aeroméxico is still the Mexican airline offering the most direct flights from Canada to Mexico, with four Canadian destinations in its route portfolio: Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, all of which are connected to Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX).
See our introduction to Aeroméxico
Aeromexico upped its frequencies on its Canadian services between Mexico City and Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver -on Sept. 8, 2016- in addition to the daily frequencies already being offered, the company added four weekly round-trip services to Montreal -Mon., Wed., Fri. and Sun.- to raise the weekly flight offering to 11.
See Aeroméxico in Cancun: Domestic – International
In the case of Toronto, the company added a further three round-trips per week to the former offering of daily services, with new flights -on Tues., Thurs. and Sun.- whilst between Mexico City and Vancouver, the airline also added three weekly round-trip flights -Tues., Thurs. and Sun.- to its existing daily services.
See Aeroméxico in Mexico City: Domestic – International
Then -on June 1, 2017- Aeromexico added its fourth Canadian destination to its global network, this time connecting Mexico City with Calgary -offering seasonal daily round-trip services until Sept. 16, 2019.
The source airports for the above Canadian destinations are as follows, in Nov. 2019:
CALGARY – No direct flights
MONTREAL – Two daily frequencies from Mexico City on the company’s Boeing 737-800 Dreamliner aircraft.
TORONTO – 14 weekly flights from MEX
VANCOUVER – 14 weekly flights from MEX
Aeroméxico is one of two Mexican carriers participating in the Mexico-Canada niche market.
INTERJET in Canada
Interjet is the only Mexican LCC (Low Cost Carrier) to operate flights to Canada, currently Nov. 2019- offering 3 Canadian destinations with direct flights to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.from both the Mexican capital (MEX) and the world-renowned Caribbean resort of Cancun (CUN).
See our introduction to Interjet
Interjet first introduced its international options to Canada in 2017, initially with two routes from Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to Cancun International Airport (CUN), and to Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) on July 13; both routes kicked off with six weekly flights -NOT on Fridays- and currently -Nov. 2019- offer daily services on the company’s Airbus A320 aircraft.
See Interjet in Cancun: Domestic – International
Then followed routes from Cancun (CUN) and Mexico City (MEX) to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), launched -as of July 28, 2017- this time with both routes initially offering four weekly frequencies -on Mon., Wed., Fri. and Sat.- and both routes are currently -Nov. 2019- providing daily services.
See Interjet in Mexico City: Domestic – International
On Oct. 26, 2017., Interjet once again upped its services between Canada and Mexico, this time from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Cancun and Mexico City; in this case, the Cancun option offering daily flights -except Weds.- though nowadays -Nov. 2019- there are three or four weekly services, whilst the Mexico City route began with daily services and currently -Nov. 2019- provide four weekly frequencies on Mon., Thurs., Fri. and Sunday. All the aforementioned services are offered on the Mexican LCCs A320/321 aircraft.
Interjet is one of two Mexican airlines to particpate in the international Mexico-Canada market niche.
Canadian airlines with direct flights to Mexico
There are currently five Canadian airlines serving Mexican destinations with a mix of scheduled and charter options, the majority of the services being charter … so no surprise that beach-orientated routes abound. See the box below.
The 12 Mexican destinations currently on offer through direct flights from Canada:
Acapulco (ACA) – Cancun (CUN) – Cozumel (CZM) – Huatulco (HUX) – Loreto (LTO) – Los Cabos (SJD) – Manzanillo (ZLO) – Mazatlan (MZT) – Merida (MID) – Mexico City (MEX) – Puerto Vallarta (PVR) – Zihuatenejo* (ZIH)
*Zihuatanejo Airport is also known as the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport
Of the five Canadian carriers currently serving the Canada-Mexico market niche, Air Canada -the country’s flagship carrier- was the first, and its affiliate Air Canada Rouge (created in 2013) is now also serving Mexico. This company was followed by Air Transat in 2004; then WestJet landed in Mexico in late 2007 and -in 2009- Sunwing Airlines headed south to the Mexican Republic for the first time. As of January 2019, a new player entered this cross-border niche: the Canadian Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) Swoop.
And, if all goes as planned, another start-up Canadian airline will be entering Mexican skies sometime later this year in the form of another ULCC: Canada Jetlines, which announced -in Jan. 2019- its intention to incorporate direct services to Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).
Jetlines‘ main base will be at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and -according to its Twitter account- the company has now set the date for the launch of its commercial operations as Dec. 17, 2019., so we will have to wait and see if it heads south to Mexico before the close of this year.
By 2016 -for the first time- one Canadian carrier -namely- WestJet, transported over a million passengers in the Canada-Mexico international niche, the exact figure being 1,074,000.* As a group, four of the aformentioned carriers jointly transported 2,899,000* passengers between the two countries over the period.
Air Canada transported the second largest number of visitors to Mexico from Canada in 2016, registering 738,000* passengers, followed by Sunwing Airlines which registered 701,000* and, for its part, Air Transat had a Mexico-bound passenger total of 386,000.*
In 2017, the year-on-year increase was the largest since 2010. In 2016 there was a total passenger count between Mexico and Canada of 3.17 mn, whilst 2017 registered 3.92 mn., basically as a result of the number of flights increasing from 21,300 -in 2016- to 25,600 throughout 2017, an increase of 4,300 flights between these two countries.
By 2018, Air Canada -following in the footsteps of WestJet– also registered over a million passengers in the Canada-Mexico niche for the first time, having transported 1,026,936 passengers over the period, though WestJet remained the leader of the pack by upping its total to 1,252,747.
And -in third place- came Sunwing Airlines with 838,583 travellers in this cross-border niche. For its part, Air Transat transported 443,051 travellers between Canada and Mexico to bring the overall Canadian airline contribution to the Canada-Mexico niche to 3,561,317 passengers in 2018, more than the number arriving to Mexico on foreign carriers from Central / South America combined.*
In total, 2018 registered an additional 3,500 flights in the Mexico-Canada niche than the previous year and reached -as mentioned above- the grand total of 4.4 million travellers in this international air travel market.
*These figures were published by Mexico’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (SCT) rounded to thousands
AIR CANADA / AIR CANADA ROUGE in Mexico
Air Canada offers 6 Mexican destinations in its route portfolio:
Cancun (CUN) / Cozumel (CZM) / Huatulco (HUX) / Los Cabos (SJD) / Mexico City (MEX) / Puerto Vallarta (PVR) / Zihuatenejo* (ZIH)
Air Canada, the Canadian flagship carrier and founding Star Alliance member airline signed an interline agreement with the Mexican carrier Interjet in January this year, thus adding further Mexican destinations to its portfolio through the connection options with this Mexican LCC at both Cancun and Mexico City, whilst Interjet passengers are able to take advantage of connections throughout Canada by way of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Canada’s flagship airline once again launched its seasonal services between Montreal and Mexico City -for the 5th consecutive year- on May 1; more recently -June 2019- it announced the acquisition of Canada’s third largest airline: Air Transat, with a price tag of US$396 mn; the deal still needs to be approved by the pertinent authorities but the aim is to be ready for “early 2020.” If and when this deal is approved, it will greatly increase Air Canada’s footprint in Mexico -2018 saw Air Canada register just over a million and Air Transat just under half a million passengers in this cross-border niche- but more specifically in the leisure market, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this deal, though the news is that the latter will maintain its Transat & Air Transat brands.
Air Canada / Air Canada Rouge** gateways into Mexico are -Nov. 2019- as follows:
CANCUN – Calgary (YYC – weekly services on Saturdays), Halifax (YHZ – as of Dec. 22, 2019), Montreal** (YUL – daily services), Ottowa** (YOW – weekly services on Fri.), Quebec** (YQB – Dec. 21, 2019 to April 11, 2020), Toronto** (YYZ – daily and twice daily from Thurs. to Sun.), Vancouver (YVR – twice weekly on Mon and Fri.) and Winnipeg (YWG – weekly services on Sat.)
COZUMEL – Montreal** (YUL), Toronto** (YYZ)
HUATULCO: Toronto (YYZ)
MEXICO CITY – Montreal** (YUL – May 1 to Oct. 25, 2019), Toronto** (YYZ) and Vancuover (YVR – daily services)
PUERTO VALLARTA – Calgary (YYC), Montreal (YUL), Toronto** (YYZ) and Vancuover (YVR)
SAN JOSÉ DEL CABO (LOS CABOS) – Calgary (YYC), Toronto** (YYZ) and Vancuover (YVR)
ZIHUATANEJO* – Montreal** (YUL), Toronto (YYZ) and Vancuover (YVR)
*Zihuatanejo Airport is also known as the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport
**Operated by Air Canada Rouge
***Operated by both Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge
to visit the official Air Canada Web site
AIR TRANSAT in Mexico
Air Transat was offering 5 Mexican destinations in its route portfolio for the winter season 2018-19, down from 7 the previous winter; options from Regina, Rouyn-Noranda and Saskatoon having been withdrawn, however the new option of Windsor – Cancun was introduced for the season.
Air Transat was named the World’s Best Leisure Airline for the second year running at the 2019 edition of the Skytrax World Airline Awards
For the 2019/20 Winter period, Transat is offering the same 5 destinations as last season, but neither Kelowna nor Windsor act as an Air Transat gateway to Mexico for the upcoming Winter season; Regina and Vancouver are no longer connected with Huatulco.
So, this year Air Transat is offering the following 5 Mexican destinations:
Acapulco (ACA) / Cancun (CUN) / Cozumel (CZM) / Huatulco (HUX) / Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
The city pairs for the above Air Transat destinations in Mexico are as follows:
NOTE: If no specific months are mentioned regarding the city-pairs,
it’s because the services are year round
(according to the company’s official Web site)
Updated on Nov. 2, 2019
ACAPULCO – Montreal (YUL – Dec. 2019 – Mar. 2020).
CANCUN – Calgary (YYC – 3 weekly services on Tues., Fri. and Sun.), Edmonton (YEG – Fri. and Sun.), Halifax (YHZ – Feb.- May 2020), Hamilton (YHM – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020), London (YXU – Ontario – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020), Moncton (YQM – Feb. 27 – Apr. 2020), Montreal (YUL – Daily frequencies), Ottowa (YOW – Nov. 2019 – Mar. 2020 – weekly on Sat.), Quebec (YQB – Nov. 2019 – June 2020 – flights on Thurs. and Sun.), Toronto (YYZ – daily and twice daily on Sat.), Vancouver (YVR – twice weekly on Thurs. and Sat.), Victoria (YYJ – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020), Windsor (YQG – Winter 2018-19), Winnipeg (YWG – Dec. 2019 – Mar. 2020).
COZUMEL – Montreal (YUL – Dec. 2019 – Mar. 2020) and Toronto (YYZ – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020).
HUATULCO – Edmonton (Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020) and Toronto (YYZ – Dec. 2019 – Mar. 2020).
PUERTO VALLARTA – Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Montreal (YUL – Dec. 2019 – June 2020), Quebec (YQB – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020), Toronto (YYZ – Nov. 2019 – Apr. 2020), Vancouver (YVR), Victoria (YYJ – Dec. 2019 – Apr. 2020), Winnipeg (YWG – Dec. 2019 – Mar. 2020).
*As of November 1, 2017., Air Transat was one of several airlines to tansfer their services to the newly inaugurated Terminal 4 of the Cancun International Airport.
to visit the official Air Transat Web site
SUNWING AIRLINES in Mexico
Sunwing Airlines is offering eight Mexican destinations in its route portfolio for the coming winter season, as follows:
Acapulco (ACA) / Cancun (CUN) / Cozumel (CZM) / Huatulco (HUX) / Los Cabos (SJD) / Mazatlan (MZT) / Puerto Vallarta (PVR) / Zihuatanejo* (ZIH)
*Zihuatanejo Airport is also known as the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport
For the winter season 2017/18, the Canadian carrier Sunwing Airlines added seasonal options between Regina (Canada) and Mazatlán (Mexico).
The changes for the 2018/19 winter season were that Manzanillo was withdrawn from the company’s Mexico offering; however, the good news is that Sept-Isles and Val D’Or were incorporated as Mexican gateways to Cancun on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
You will have to check directly with the company for specific travel dates, but below we offer you a quick guide to the city pairs on offer from Sunwing Airlines between Canada and Mexico. The source airports for the Sunwing Airlines routes to Mexico are as follows for the winter season 2018/19:
BAGOTVILLE – Cancun // BUFFALO – Cancun // CALGARY – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // EDMONTON – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // FREDERICTON – Cancun // HALIFAX – Cancun // KELOWNA – Cancun and Los Cabos // MONCTON – Cancun // MONT JOLI – Cancun // MONTREAL – Acapulco, Cancun (5 weekly frequencies – NOT Tues. or Sun.), Cozumel, Huatulco, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // OTTOWA – Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta // QUEBEC – Cancun (weekly on Sun.) and Puerto Vallarta // REGINA – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // SASKATOON – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // SEPT-ILES – Cancun // SAINT JOHN’S – Cancun // THUNDER BAY – Cancun // TORONTO – Acapulco, Cancun (Daily services), Cozumel, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // VAL-D’OR – Cancun // VANCOUVER – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta // VICTORIA – Huatulco, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta // WINDSOR – Cancun // WINNIPEG – Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.
SWOOP in Mexico
Swoop offers the following Mexican destinations in its route portfolio:
Cancun (CUN) / Los Cabos (SJD – as of Nov. 2019) / Mazatlán (MZT) / Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
After being granted its air operating certificate (AOC) by Transportation Canada on June 12, 2018. Abbotsford (YXX) became the launch pad for Swoop just a week later when -on June 20, 2018- the carrier introduced its services from YXX to Halifax and Hamilton.
See Swoop in Cancun
Swoop began commercial operations with a fleet of 4 x Boeing 737-800 aircraft (as of Aug. 16, 2018) with 189 seats (39 with extra leg room), nowadays (July, 2019) the company boasts 6 of the said aircraft.
On Oct. 4, 2018., the recently launched Canadian Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) Swoop, a member airline of WestJet Airlines Ltd., announced three international gateways connecting Canada and Mexico, as of January 2019.
The Calgary-based carrier Swoop initially offered two Canadian gateways out of Abbotsford and Hamilton; from the Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) the ULCC connected to the International Airport of Puerto Vallarta (PVR – as of Jan. 12, 2019) and to the Mazatlán International Airport (MZT – as of Jan. 20, 2019).
January 2019 also saw Swoop connect the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM) to Puerto Vallarta; the International Airport of Cancún (CUN) also welcomed this Canadian carrier from YHM. Towards the end of May, Swoop transported -and celebrated- its one-millionth traveller on its route connecting Edmonton and Hamilton, after just 11 months of operations.
By July 25, this Canadian ULCC was betting on its fourth Mexican destination, this time landing at the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD); further new city pairs are to be introduced for the coming Winter 2019/20 season, thus upping Swoop’s Canadian gateways to 5 by incorporating Edmonton, London and Winnepeg, see below for further details.
Swoop’s Canadian gateways serve the following destinations in Mexico:
Cancun (CUN): Edmonton (YEG – as of Oct. 24, 2019 – weekly on Thurs.) / Hamilton (YHM – as of June 25, 2019 – 3 weekly frequencies on Tues., Thurs. and Sat.) / London (YXU – as of Oct. 24, 2019 – 2 weekly services on Thurs. and Sat.)
Los Cabos (SJD): Edmonton (YEG – as of Nov. 2, 2019) / Winnipeg (YWG – as of Nov. 17, 2019)
Mazatlán (MZT): Abbotsford (YXX – as of June 25, 2019) / Edmonton (YEG – as of Nov. 2, 2019)
Puerto Vallarta (PVR): Abbotsford (YXX – as of June 25, 2019) / Edmonton (YEG – as of Oct. 19, 2019) / Hamilton (YHM – as of June 25, 2019) / Winnipeg (YWG – as of Dec. 10, 2019)
to visit the official Swoop Web site
WESTJET in Mexico
WestJet offers the following Mexican destinations in its route portfolio:
Cancun (CUN) / Cozumel (CZM) / Huatulco (HUX) / Loreto (LTO) / Los Cabos (SJD) / Manzanillo (ZLO) / Mazatlan (MZT) / Merida (MID) / Puerto Vallarta (PVR) / Zihuatanejo* (ZIH)
*Zihuatanejo Airport is also known as the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport
The only difference compared with the last winter’s seasonal options to Mexico from WestJet is that for the upcoming Winter 2019-20 season, Mazatlán is no longer available from Edmonton.
WestJet has many code-share partners, among them is Mexico’s most international airline: Aeroméxico.
WestJet withdrew its Mexico City services in Oct. 2018., just seven months after introducing its flights from Calgary and Vancouver, citing poor performance on the said routes
Below we list the source airports for the WestJet services to the above Mexican destinations for the Winter 2019/20 season.
ABBOTSFORD – Puerto Vallarta – from Nov. 2018 to Apr. 2019.
CALGARY – Cancun – daily until Apr. 26, 2020 / Huatulco – 2 weekly, up to 3 as of Dec. 1 until Apr. 2020 / Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo – 2-4 times weekly until Apr. 2020 / Loreto – Saturdays until Apr. 26, 2020 / Los Cabos – daily until Apr. 26, 2020 / Manzanillo – 2-3 times weekly until Apr. 5, 2020 / Mazatlan – 4 times weekly until Apr. 19, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – daily until Apr. 26, 2020
COMOX – Puerto Vallarta – Saturdays until Apr. 19, 2020
EDMONTON – Cancun – 5-6 times weekly until Apr. 26, 2020 / Huatulco – Thursdays until Apr. 12, 2020 / Los Cabos – Mondays until Apr. 26, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – 3-4 times weekly until Apr. 12, 2020
HALIFAX – Cancun – Saturdays until Apr. 26, 2020
KELOWNA – Cancun – Fri. and Sun. until Apr. 12, 2020 / Los Cabos – Saturdays until Apr. 26, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – Thursdays until Apr. 19, 2020
MONTREAL – Cancun – no longer on offer
OTTOWA – Cancun – Sat, and Sun. until Apr. 19, 2020
PRINCE GEORGE – Puerto Vallarta – Sundays until Apr. 19, 2020
REGINA – Cancun – 1-2 times weekly until Apr. 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – 1-2 times weekly until Apr. 2020
SASKATOON – Cancun – Mon. and Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – Wednesdays until Apr. 26, 2020
TORONTO – Cancun – daily and twice daily on Mon., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. / Cozumel – Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020 / Huatulco – Sun. until Apr. 19, 2020 / Merida – Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – 3 weekly until Apr. 12, 2020
VANCOUVER – Cancun – 6 weekly, then daily as of Dec. to Apr. 12, 2020 / Huatulco – Sat. and Sun. until Apr. 12, 2020 / Los Cabos – 6 weekly, then daily as of Dec. to Apr. 19, 2020 / Mazatlan – Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – daily until Apr. 19, 2020
VICTORIA – Cancun – Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020 / Los Cabos – Tues. until Apr. 26, 2020 – Puerto Vallarta – Sat. until Apr. 26, 2020
WINNIPEG – Cancun – Sundays, then 3 times weekly as of Jan. 6 until Apr. 19, 2020 / Puerto Vallarta – Sat., then 3 times weekly as of Jan. 6 until Apr. 5, 2020
to visit the official WestJet Web site