Mexicana Airlines Returns to D/FW

Mexicana Airlines, which was Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's original international airline when the airport opened in 1974, is back after a 13-year absence.

A festive welcome greeted Mexican dignitaries who disembarked at Terminal B's customs area Thursday morning, marking Mexicana's return. Mariachi music played. D/FW firefighters gave Flight 178 the airport's traditional "shower of affection" greeting as the plane taxied to the gates.

Mexicana will fly to Morelia four days a week and to Zacatecas three days a week -- adding to D/FW's reach into Latin America. D/FW now has nonstop service to 17 markets in Mexico.

"This is actually a homecoming of sorts," D/FW Chief Executive Jeff Fegan told a small crowd of Mexican officials. "Mexicana's timing couldn't be better."

The flight was going to be part of Terminal D's July 6 opening celebration, but the terminal won't be ready until July 23 -- and business won't wait for belated ceremonies, Fegan said. For now, Mexicana will be Terminal B's newest tenant.

Mexican officials spoke in glowing terms of D/FW's expansion programs, noting the large number of Mexicans who worked on Terminal D.

Gov. Amalia GarcĂ­a Medina of Zacatecas said the new D/FW service will establish "links to the Metroplex, and, through this airport, to the United States."

Mexicana officials touted the service as an example of the carrier's pre-eminent position among Mexican airlines.

Mexicana is managed by Cintra, a government-run holding company that also operates rival Aeromexico. Cintra has announced plans to sell off 51 percent of the airlines next year.

Mexicana, the country's largest carrier, may soon face low-fare competition from Gol, a Brazilian discount carrier that has launched plans to create a Southwest Airlines-style low-cost airline in Mexico.