Dallas-based AirTran Airways, a Southwest Airlines Co. subsidiary, and Mexico City-based Interjet have announced new San Antonio routes to Mexico.
AirTran has applied to begin San Antonio nonstop routes to Mexico City and Cancún in May. The carrier will announce frequencies for those flights later, said San Antonio International Airport spokesman Rich Johnson.
Interjet, which begins previously announced non-stop service from San Antonio to Mexico City on Dec. 1, has applied to add a new route Dec. 6: San Antonio-Toluca-Guadalajara three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
AirTran will fly Boeing 717s, which seat 117 passengers. It presently serves San Antonio on a route to Atlanta.
Interjet uses Airbus A320s seating 150 passengers.
AirTran was acquired by Dallas-based Southwest last year. AirTran was based in Orlando, Fla., then.
“We have been very encouraged by the success of AirTran's existing international service, and we look forward to building that success,” said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines executive vice president and chief commercial officer and AirTran president, in announcing AirTran's San Antonio flights.
“AirTran's new domestic service and planned international service in several markets offers customers even more options when traveling both in the U.S. and abroad and is a terrific demonstration of the benefits Southwest's acquisition of AirTran brings customers.”
Southwest selected San Antonio as a “focus city” for service to Mexico, along with Orange County in California, the airport's Johnson said. Southwest intends to funnel passengers to Mexico with AirTran's connections through San Antonio and Orange County, he said.
“This is great news for San Antonio's economy. The timing of this new airline service to and from Mexico City could not be better,” said Marco Barros, president and CEO of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.
“The shopping season is right around the corner, and the economic impact for our city is tremendous with an increase of visitors who will come shopping to The Shops at La Cantera, North Star Mall, the Quarry (Market) and many retailers in the area.”
Southwest plans to convert AirTran to the Southwest brand by 2014. Any AirTran international flights at that time will be among Southwest's first flights outside the United States. AirTran already operates routes to the Caribbean and Canada.
Southwest is scheduled to begin connections and code-sharing with AirTran early next year. In code-sharing, an airline places its flight number and airline code onto another airline's flight.
Southwest already has a code-sharing agreement with Mexico City-based Volaris, which does not operate in San Antonio.
Another Mexican carrier, Monterrey-based VivaAerobus, started San Antonio-to-Monterrey service Nov. 8, with flights three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, using 148-seat Boeing 737s.
Interjet's return route on the San Antonio-Toluca-Guadalajara route is not direct service between Guadalajara and San Antonio. Guadalajara is Mexico's second-largest city. Toluca, the capital of Mexico state, is a large industrial city about 40 miles west of Mexico City.
Current nonstop service between San Antonio and Mexico City is limited to Aeromexico. Under an international agreement, two Mexican airlines and two U.S.-based airlines are allowed to serve that route.
Once Interjet and AirTran begin their San Antonio-Mexico City service, only one route slot, for a U.S. carrier, will be open.