General aviation

Canada-Mexico air travel reaches 4.8 million

Cancun, Mexico was the top destination for Canadians in 2018. (photo: Jim Allen)

Canadians continued to show their love of sunshine and warmth in 2018, with just shy of 4.8 million trips recorded between Canada and Mexico in 2018. That was up 10% over the previous year, according to data released by Mexico’s Transportation and Communications Secretariat.

In all, there were more than 31,000 flights between Canada and Mexico last year, 90% of them scheduled services.

Toronto was the top source of flights and passengers, with more than 750,000 passengers departing for Mexico last year. Vancouver and Montreal each saw more than 400,000 departing passengers, and Calgary saw 340,000 departures, 10% more than in 2017.

Edmonton rounded out the top five airports, with a little more than 111,000 passengers departing to Mexico, one-quarter of all international trips from YEG last year.

Source: Mexican Transportation and Communications Secretariat

While traffic at the largest airports to Mexico grew last year, at the next tier of cities, the picture was more varied. Quebec City saw 40% more passengers to Mexico, while on the other end of the spectrum, departures from Ottawa were down 36%.

Source: Mexican Transportation and Communications Secretariat

Cancun was the most popular destination from Canada, logging more than 2 million round trips. Mexico City was next, with 1.1 million round trips.

Westjet was the dominant Canadian airline to Mexico, operating 9,279 flights from Canada to Mexico, followed by Air Canada, which flew 6,136. Among leisure carriers, Sunwing led the way to Mexico, operating 4,907 flights, while Air Transat flew just 1,666, though because Transat flew larger planes, they had the highest average load, with 266 passengers.

Not all the traffic was generated by Canadians headed for fun in the sun. Mexico is the top source of visitors to Canada from the Americas, excluding the United States.

Source: Mexican Transportation and Communications Secretariat

Statistics Canada reported in February that the number of Mexicans travelling to Canada spiked in 2017, after visa restrictions on tourists were lifted. Typically, the data show tourists to Canada come in the summer months, while Canadians travel south in the coldest winter months.

There stands to be more competition to Mexico in 2019. In January, ultra low-cost carrier Swoop launched service from Hamilton and Abbotsford, and Jetlines, which has yet to operate a single flight, has signed deals to fly to three Mexican airports.

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