McAllen airport sees increase in international travel, direct flights contribute to economic recovery

Local News

MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — After a difficult year for all types of industries, people are returning to their usual lives and spending habits, including travel.

“Our numbers were close to zero at the height of the pandemic here in McAllen,” Aeromar Executive Director of Network Strategy Fabricio Cojuc said. “Traffic is back very strong.” 

According to Cojuc, there has been a recent resurgence of travel, namely driven by leisure, as vaccinations have become more widespread. 

“The recovery has really been driven by people wanting to get out and visit and feeling like things are back to normal again,” he said. 

Aeromar recently added several direct flights to parts of Mexico, including to Monterrey and Guadalajara. Cojuc said these flights are doing very well, with about 27 departures a week. 

“People not only from the Valley are going to Mexico, but also people from Mexico are coming here,” he said. “So, it’s a very nice balance, because we need to fill the seats on the plane in both directions.” 

Due to land travel restrictions, Monterrey resident Santiago Farias Calderon has not been to the U.S. since the pandemic began. Once he found out about the direct flights, he booked the trip. 

“We’ve just been here for two days and it was just a short shopping trip,” he said. 

Farias Calderon is hopeful for land borders to open up soon, but said he is glad to have the direct flight option. All he will need to return is another negative COVID-19 test, as required by the CDC. 

“Other than the test requirement you have to get here, everything is pretty straightforward, and everything is seemingly normal,” he said. 

Though people are excited to book trips again, Cojuc believes they will not be as carefree as prior to the pandemic. 

“I think people are going to change their habits a little bit,” he said. “They’re going to be looking for safe places to travel where the hotels are clean, where the governments and authorities and business are focusing on not only quality of service, but on cleanliness and on places where you feel safe to go.” 

He adds airlines and airports will also keep to the more rigorous cleaning schedule they have implemented. 

“We’re cleaning the aircraft thoroughly, not only every night but in between flights,” he said. “All of the learning we had from COVID, in terms of wearing masks and keeping the social distance, that I think is here to stay.” 

Another travel trend Cojuc has observed is people booking flights mere days ahead due to the uncertainty of potential cancellations, however he sees people returning to the typical months in advance reservations in the near future. 

Meanwhile, he believes it will not be until 2022 that business travel bounces back. 

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