Aeromexico first new routes since the finalization of joint venture with Delta was announced today and to no surprise Aeromexico will restart service to Seattle. New service between Mexico City and Seattle Tacoma international airport starts November 1, 2017. The service will use a 160 seat Boeing 737-800 and will operate year round. Aeromexico will become the second Mexican airline flying to Seattle after Volaris.
The announcement also includes service to several other cities. Aeromexico will start new service in 2017 with daily flights between Atlanta and both Merida and Queretaro, Mexico City and Portland, and between Los Angeles and Leon/Guanajuato. Part of the Delta-Aeromexico JV requires the airline to grow US-Mex capacity by 10%.
Seattle Now Makes Sense for Aeromexico
In the early 2000s Aeromexico flew between Seattle and Cabo and Mexico City. Neither service was daily nor did Aeromexico partner with Alaska Airlines then. Aeromexico’s services did not last, as Alaska Airlines was able to drive Aeromexico out of the market with competitive service. Then in 2013, Aeromexico and Alaska started codesharing and expanded the partnership to their frequent flyer programs. Flash forward nine years later, and Aeromexico is launching daily flights to Seattle again. Yet this time the stakes are higher in Seattle, and Aeromexico has a greater chance of making the route profitable.
Aeromexico now partners with both Delta and Alaska Airlines in Seattle. With two partners offering a major hub in Seattle, Aeromexico can easily connect passengers from Mexico City to both Alaska and Delta’s network. This includes destinations in Asia which Aeromexico does not serve via partner Delta. In addition, Alaska and Aeromexico codeshare, as do Delta and Aeromexico. Delta is closer to Aeromexico than Alaska, but then again Delta now owns nearly half of Aeromexico.
As Delta is building up a major hub in Seattle, adding service by an airline they partly control makes absolute sense. Not to mention, Mike Medeiros, the former VP of Delta operations in Seattle is now Aeromexico’s Chief Operating Officer. Medeiros is familiar with the Seattle market and Delta’s operation, therefore supporting Delta’s Seattle growth with help from Aeromexico makes logical sense; especially now that Delta and Aeromexico joint venture allows revenue sharing on the route.
Will Aeromexico and Alaska remain Partners?
Aeromexico might be partners with Alaska but everything points to this relationship ending soon. Despite the partnership with Alaska Airlines, the Aeromexico-Alaska partnership appears to be on the fritz. Recently, Alaska has blocked award travel on Aeromexico and has removed Aeromexico award charts from the Mileage Plan page. Currently, Aeromexico is an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partner which is only allows people to earn miles by flying, but not redeem.
Aeromexico’s service also appears to be a blatant attempt to keep Alaska from growing into the Mexico City market from Seattle and Portland. Alaska Airlines begins new service to Mexico City this summer from the West Coast, but only from California. Seattle, Alaska Airlines largest hub, nor Portland are currently part of the Mexico City expansion. However, if Alaska was considering Seattle or Portland flights to Mexico City, Aeromexico is trying to put the brakes on it.
Pressure appears to be mounting from Delta to suffocate Alaska Airlines from all sides. With Mike Medeiros running Aeromexico, the Eskimo will likely go from partner, to frenemy, to rival. After all, that is exactly what happened when Medeiros was promoted to VP of Seattle operations at Delta.
Time will only tell what will happen between Alaska and Aeromexico, but if history repeats itself, then we already know the answer.