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TravelAeromexico makes Tampa its newest city as DOT head winds loom

Aeromexico makes Tampa its newest city as DOT head winds loom

Aeromexico is on an expansion spree in the United States, even as its vital partnership with Delta Air Lines is called into question by U.S. regulators.

The Mexican flag carrier will begin service between Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Mexico City International Airport (MEX), the airline and TPA officials said Monday.

The airline will operate the flight, which runs daily beginning July 1, on a 99-seat Embraer E190 jet.

“This new service is made possible by Aeromexico-Delta alliance, which offers more and better options to passengers in both Mexico and the United States,” Aeromexico said in a press release about the new TPA flight.

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Delta Air Lines owns roughly 20% of Aeromexico, and the two airlines operate a joint venture for flights between Mexico and the U.S.

Tampa will be the 23rd U.S. city served by Aeromexico, which has substantially expanded its U.S. footprint this year, opening service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), McAllen International Airport (MFE) in Texas, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in North Carolina and Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, D.C.

The expansion has come, however, as Aeromexico faces pushback from the U.S. Department of Transportation over its close partnership with Atlanta-based Delta.

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Last month, the DOT said that it tentatively would not renew its approval of the airlines’ antitrust immunity agreement, a move that would force the airlines to unwind the joint venture and reconsider how they operate and coexist.

The DOT cited steps taken by the Mexican government at MEX in its rejection of ongoing antitrust immunity for the two airlines, arguing that Mexico’s governing of takeoff and landing slots at MEX has been “opaque and anti-competitive,” giving Aeromexico an advantage over new-entrant airlines.

The U.S. regulator also said that the Mexican government had cut air cargo operations at MEX amid falling flight capacity numbers due to infrastructure problems at the airport, with renovations needed to handle a greater number of flights.

“However,” the DOT said, “the Mexican Government has more recently conceded that no such construction plans exist.”

In a filing with the DOT late last week, Delta sharply objected to the DOT’s order, arguing that fares would increase and “$800 million in annual consumer benefits would evaporate.”

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“Nearly two dozen routes between the United States and Mexico would be at risk of cancellation and capacity would be reduced, with large narrowbody aircraft to be replaced with smaller aircraft on at least ten other routes,” Delta said in the filing.

“Perversely, consumers, not the [government of Mexico], would pay the price for the [government of Mexico’s] alleged infidelity to the Agreement,” the airline added. “This is bad policy on the part of the Department and would lead to pernicious consequences for consumers, communities, and competition.”

Under the tentative DOT order, the airlines must dissolve the partnership by Oct. 26. It was not clear what the next steps or options were for the airlines. Spokespeople for Delta and for the DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPG.


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