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Airports Authority looking to Mexico as growth opportunity

Aeromexico to begin service at Washington Dulles International Airport next year

Mexico’s return to the highest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety level is likely to aid the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s efforts to lure additional traffic to and from the U.S.’s neighbor to its south.

Dividends already are being reaped, as Aeromexico has announced plans to bring daily service from Mexico City to Washington Dulles International Airport starting next year.

The announcement marks “a great step forward” in the effort to connect with Mexico and its 130 million citizens, authority board chair William Sudow (Virginia) said at the board’s Oct. 18 meeting.

“It’s an expanding market opportunity,” Sudow said.

The FAA had downgraded Mexico’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating to Category 2 in May 2021 after finding the country did not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. This September, the agency returned Mexico’s aviation-safety rating to the highest level following more than two years of close work between the civil-aviation authorities in both countries.

With a return to Category 1 status, Mexico can add new service and routes to the U.S., and U.S. airlines can resume marketing and selling tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights.

Chryssa Westerlund, the airports authority’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer, told board members staff believed Aeromexico’s arrival will spur both new service and expansion of existing service to Mexico. That was music to the ears of authority board member Walter Tejada (Virginia).

“It benefits the entire region,” Tejada said. “It’s actually good for the bottom line.”

As part of a broader effort to recruit international service, staffers from the airports authority recently spent a week in Istanbul, holding 70 meetings with airlines from across the globe during a trade show.