New York, May 2: Quoting a decline in demand for seats to Mexico, most of the largest US airlines cut their services to the country for the time being.
U.S. Airways (NYSE: LCC), Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) and United Airlines parent UAL Corp ( NASDAQ: UAUA) claimed that U.S. travelers were hesitant in going to the south of the border as Mexico had been the worst hit in the swine flu pandemic.
The biggest US carrier to Mexico, Continental Airlines, plans to cut the number of its Mexico seats by half starting Monday. As on date, Continental operates, on average, 450 weekly flights to the country.
Continental chairman and chief executive Larry Kellner said of the cuts, “Given the swift changes we are seeing in the marketplace, we need to react prudently but quickly to bring our capacity more into line with demand."
U.S. Airways intends to cut 38 percent of its planned flights to Mexico between May 10 and July 1. United Airlines has also declared reductions in their service to Mexico beginning May 4, 2009.
American Airlines Inc (NYSE: AA) is the only major airline that did not alter its flight schedule to Mexico. Tim Smith, spokesperson for the airline, maintained, “As of this time, we have not made any schedule changes in Mexico. We continue to monitor and evaluate the demand situation closely."
Meanwhile, the two Canadian carriers, Calgary, Alberta based WestJet Inc (TSX: WJA) and Montreal, Quebec, based Transat A.T. (TSX: TRZ), have suspended their Mexico flights as of Monday. Air Canada (TSX: AC.A, TSX: AC.B) is likely to follow suit shortly.
The decision to cut or withdraw flights to Mexico is definitely the need of the hour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that "U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico” in the wake of the swine flu.