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Old Posted Nov 22, 2007, 4:28 AM
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[SA] Mexicana Airlines to begin nonstop flights from SA to Monterrey


Airline to begin nonstop flights from San Antonio to Monterrey, Mexico

Web Posted: 11/21/2007 07:46 PM CST

David Hendricks
Express-News business writer

Mexicana Airlines will begin daily, nonstop service between San Antonio and Monterrey, Mexico, on Dec. 2 using full-service, 100-seat Airbus A318 aircraft, the airline announced Wednesday.

"This new daily service could not come at a better time. It's just at a time when the holiday shopping period gets under way," said Marco Barros, president and chief executive for the San Antonio Tourism Council.

The new service will add competition to the existing San Antonio-Monterrey direct service offered by AeroLitoral, an affiliate of AeroMexico, which offers two direct daily flights, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, using 50-seat EJR-145 regional jets.

The Mexicana flight will begin each day with a Monterrey departure at 7 a.m., arriving in San Antonio at 8:10 a.m. The airline will depart San Antonio at 9:20 a.m., arriving at Monterrey at 10:30 a.m.

Mexicana is offering a promotional opening fare of $126 for a round-trip ticket, plus taxes, fees and surcharges. The airline this year marked its 50th anniversary of service to San Antonio.

The new flight counts as another victory for the business-government Strategic Mexico Initiative announced in San Antonio in April to increase business ties with Mexico, especially through transportation service, said Mark Webb, city aviation director.

A year ago, San Antonio had only one daily flight to Monterrey, by AeroLitoral, Webb said. Starting Dec. 2, it will have three. AeroLitoral added its second daily departure from San Antonio to Monterrey a few weeks ago.

The Airbus A318 is considered a bigger class of aircraft than regional jets. It seats 12 in first-class and 88 in coach.

Barros and city aviation officials said growing business ties between San Antonio and Monterrey and the growing number of Mexican nationals owning San Antonio homes should support the increased air service between the two cities.

The larger freight capacity of the A318 also should be popular with Mexican shoppers because they will be able to carry more purchases back to Mexico, said Barbara Prossen, assistant to the San Antonio aviation director.

Prossen also said Mexicans owning a San Antonio home often prefer a full-service aircraft when flying to Monterrey, so they choose U.S. airlines that connect to Monterrey from San Antonio through Houston and Dallas. Many may switch to Mexicana's service instead to save time, Prossen said.

The increased service between San Antonio and Monterrey also will help business travelers, especially those connected with San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B and its suppliers, Barros said. H-E-B operates 18 of its 28 Mexico grocery stores in Monterrey.

When the Strategic Mexico Initiative was announced last spring, one goal was to increase San Antonio's share of Mexicans visiting Texas.

Houston is the destination for 50 percent of Mexicans visiting Texas, while Dallas receives one-third of the visitors and San Antonio 16 percent.

Barros said he has heard from the two Mexican-based airlines that their additional service stems from the efforts of the San Antonio International Airport team of Webb, Prossen and José Luis Garcia, city aviation marketing manager. The trio help lead the Strategic Mexico Initiative and have "made a huge difference," Barros said.
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