D/FW Losing 2 Mexican Airlines

D/FW AIRPORT -- As if Dallas/Fort Worth Airport didn't have enough losses, it now has to deal with the pullout of two Mexican airlines over the next month.

Joe Lopano, D/FW's executive vice president of marketing and terminal management, delivered the news in the form of a bullet-point item in his monthly update to the airport's board of directors Thursday.

"We have a shrinking situation," Lopano said in an interview after the meeting. "So that is cause for some concern."

AeroMexico, which has one daily flight to Mexico City from D/FW's new Terminal D, will stop service Feb. 5. The airline had been at D/FW since 1994.

Mexicana will exit the D/FW market Tuesday. The airline flew one daily flight to Guadalajara, Mexico. It also flew four times a week to Morelia, Mexico, and three times a week to Zacatecas, Mexico. It had made several entrances and exits in the D/FW market. It most recently resumed D/FW flights in July.

Mexicana was the first airline to fly into the new Terminal D on July 23. It was in the process of being privatized, and that ownership change may have been what forced Mexicana to end its D/FW service, Lopano said.

AeroMexico is a code-share partner with Delta Air Lines, meaning customers can book a flight from anywhere Delta flies to anywhere AeroMexico goes to, all through Delta's reservation system.

That helped AeroMexico book extra seats it wouldn't otherwise sell. That help was severely reduced in January 2005 when Delta cut its D/FW service to 22 daily flights from 252.

Lopano said that was one of the main reasons AeroMexico decided to pull out.

Mexicana saw 5,434 arriving and departing passengers at D/FW in October, the most recent data available. AeroMexico had 3,887 passengers at D/FW.

D/FW's overall international growth made 2005 a record year for foreign passengers. It brought in 5.6 million foreign passengers, a 12 percent boost over its 5 million total in 2004.

"This is going affect our international numbers, no question about it," Lopano said of the loss of both airlines. "We're not happy about that. We've got to go try to replace this service somehow."

Lopano said he and other airport executives are planning a trip to Mexico in two weeks in hopes of persuading both airlines to return or to rustle up new flights from another airline.

He also said he plans to talk to Fort Worth-based American Airlines about filling in the gaps.

"I'm the eternal optimist," Lopano said. "We will continue to market aggressively. We won't stop until we succeed."

D/FW officials are scratching their heads over a complete turnaround by AeroMexico, which they say filed in November to add two more flights from D/FW Airport. The airline never received approval, D/FW officials said.

Lopano also briefed the board on American's cancellation of 13 D/FW flights in October and an additional 31 flights that will be cut beginning next month.

The airport is now left with eight international carriers, including American and American Eagle.

"Compared to what I announced at the meeting [Thursday], this is a small issue," Lopano said. "Not that it's not something I'm concerned about, but we also lost 40 or 50 flights from American."

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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