Two of Mexico's regional, low-cost airlines, Interjet and Transportes Aéreos Regionales (TAR), are planning to offer daily nonstop service from San Antonio to Querétaro, Mexico's fastest growing and second most prosperous city, according to Mexican airline industry sources and aviation media reports.
Interjet already offers daily nonstop service from San Antonio to four other Mexican cities, and will add its fifth destination in July, sources in Querétaro and Mexico City informed the Rivard Report last week. TAR executives signaled their intention to start a San Antonio-Querétaro nonstop earlier this year, but no confirmation of that has come yet from City of San Antonio officials. The City's Aviation Director Frank Miller said Sunday night that City officials are still trying to confirm the expansion plans.
It is possible that Mexican aviation operators and the media that cover the sector are describing anticipated expansion plans as a done deal, even before San Antonio City and airport officials have become involved.
A map showing outgoing Interjet lights from San Antonio. Courtesy of www.interjet.com.
T21MX, a Mexican transportation media website, reported news of the new Interjet flight on Sunday. Mexican aviation news site, aviacionmexico.com, reported in March that TAR would establish nonstop San Antonio-Querétaro service this summer.
Querétaro International Airport is one of five major airports located around Mexico City where federal authorities are seeking to relocate traffic and expanding service to relieve congestion at Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport.
Interjet now offers daily nonstop service from San Antonio to Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and to Toluca's Lopez Mateos International Airport, the closest of the five international airports to Mexico City.
Confirmation of nonstop service to a fifth Mexican city would be the latest in a series of new non-stop flights out of San Antonio International Airport (SAT) this year, the result of a major initiative by the City and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to expand nonstop destinations from the city.
(Read more: San Antonio Adds Nonstops to Miami and New Orleans, With Cancún Coming Next.) Click here for a list of all nonstop flights from SAT.
Five airlines in total offer non-stop service from San Antonio to Mexican cities. Aeromexico, that country's leading air carrier, offers daily non-stops to Mexico City and Monterrey. Low-cost carrier Volaris, Mexico's second largest airline, offers nonstop service to Guadalajara, and low-cost carrier VivaAerobus, based in Nuevo León, offers nonstop service to Monterrey. Southwest Airlines recently launched nonstop service to the Yucatan beach resort of Cancún, capital of the so-called Riviera Maya.
Continuing to expand daily nonstop flights from San Antonio to all of Mexico's leading cities could be one of the most potent economic development strategies for the city. While official political and business contacts between the City and Mexico have waned in the last decade amid cartel violence and heightened national security measures along the border, the pendulum now seems to be swinging back in the other direction.
Mexico is the state's largest trading partner, with goods and services exported from Texas across the border now exceeding $100 billion a year, according to Texas Secretary of State Carlos Humberto Cascos. That's more than Texas exports to its next 10 biggest trading partners.
Cascos was the keynote speaker at Friday's 10th Annual Entrepreneurial Spirits Awards Gala Dinner, the showcase event of the Asociación Empresarios Mexicanos. AEM, founded in San Antonio in 1996 by a handful of Mexican entrepreneurs living here, now has chapters in 26 different cities, making it the leading U.S.-Mexico organization for Mexican entrepreneurs in the United States.
Cascos, a Matamoros native who grew up in Brownsville and is a certified public accountant, was serving as Cameron County Judge when Gov. Greg Abbott tapped him for statewide office. He told the AEM audience at the Pearl Stable that building a closer relationship with Mexico and expanding cross-border economic activity is a major priority for the Abbott administration.
North American Development Bank Managing Director Gerónimo Gutiérrez was this year's recipient of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. The NADBank, a binational financial institution founded in San Antonio in 1994, has financed hundreds of millions in environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border.
For all of San Antonio's geographic, historical, and cultural ties to Mexico, not having to travel through Houston or Dallas is seen as key for both Mexicans and San Antonians to promote greater trade, tourism, and cultural exchanges.
A new flight to Querétaro should boost tourism in both directions as well. Querétaro is the southernmost city in Mexico's scenic and historic El Bahïo, the country's great central plateau that includes San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo, and San Luis de Potosí. Some San Antonians have had second homes for generations in San Miguel de Allende, only 39 miles from Querétaro International Airport.
Querétaro's 17th and 18th century colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city's elevation at nearly 6,000 feet above sea level and its year-around moderate climate make it a popular destination for visitors attracted to the colonial architecture, museums, churches and the city's distinctive 75-arch aqueduct, the largest in Mexico.
Querétaro, a city of two million people, is growing even faster than San Antonio and now is second only to Monterrey as a corporate business center with a growing concentration of multinational companies basing their Mexican and regional operations there. An Internet search of business growth there turned up numerous social media requests from residents there imploring H-E-B Mexico to accelerate its march south to open a store in Queretaro.
*Featured/top image: Terminal B at the San Antonio International Airport (SAT). Courtesy of the San Antonio Airport - Mark Langford.