Volaris Prepares For Full Scale US Invasion (and That’s a Good Thing)


If there was any doubt that Mexican airline Volaris had designs on a big US presence, those have been put to rest. After announcing a couple of new routes over the last few months, Volaris has now applied for a slew of new routes covering the country. If you don’t know Volaris, that’s going to change very quickly.

Volaris Charge on US

As of now, Volaris flies to Guadalajara from Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Chicago/Midway, and, starting March 30, Las Vegas. It also flies from LA to Zacatecas, Morelia, and Toluca (Mexico City’s secondary airport). You might remember back in October when Southwest officially launched its partnership with Volaris to feed passengers between the two networks. Now, Volaris is ready to blanket the US with its own flights, happy to feed passengers into the Southwest system. Much of this is thanks to the demise of Mexicana.

Volaris has received approval from Mexico and is now applying for approval from the US to fly the following routes:

  • Chicago to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Zacatecas
  • Dallas/Ft Worth to Mexico City
  • Fresno to Guadalajara
  • LA to Aguascalientes, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mazatlan, Oaxaca, and Puerto Vallarta
  • Miami to Cancun
  • New York to Cancun
  • Oakland to Leon and Mexico City
  • San Francisco to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta
  • San Jose to Leon
  • Sacramento to Cabo San Lucas, Guadalajara, Leon, and Morelia

See, I told you this was a big deal. But don’t get too excited about booking your next trip on Volaris, because these won’t start up immediately. At least, not all of them will. According to the filing, Volaris will start Fresno to Guadalajara immediately (there’s a lot of visiting family/friends traffic in that market) and those will soon be followed by Chicago to Zacatecas, LA to Aguascalientes, Oakland to Mexico City, Sacramento to Guadalajara, and San Francisco to Guadalajara. For the rest of the routes, service will “begin as warranted by commercial conditions.” I spoke with Volaris Chief Commercial Officer Holger Blankenstein and added that they “are not able to commit to dates on when we will launch some or any of these routes.

The reason Volaris is doing this all right now is because of the way the agreement between Mexico and the US works. The two countries still operate under an old-school bilateral agreement that only allows a certain number of airlines to fly each route. So Volaris has been submitting applications to the Mexican government over time and just received a lump response with approvals for all. Now, Volaris is taking those and asking the US DOT for approval as well. Volaris is stating its intentions and requesting that it be given the authority for one year on all these routes. If it doesn’t start service on all of these within a year, then the availability would just go back into the pool, I would assume.

You’ll notice that a lot of these routes are former Mexicana routes. That currently-dead airline (which continues to float rumors about a comeback some day) left open a lot of vacancies in the bilateral agreement. So Volaris is jumping on them and incorporating them into the airline’s growth strategy. Holger explained,

What we can say is that we have a significant expansion plans. We are growing fast thanks to our aggressive promos, our pre-purchase campaign, good itineraries and our on-time service. We are adding 8 aircraft in 2011, many, but not all, will be dedicated to MEX-US service. Our fleet age is 3.4 years, and currently we have 46 routes covering 25 cities. We are a very young airline that fortunately has had many early successes through a young and innovative workforce and hard work. Our main concern is to be a low-cost airline with a high quality service.

Some of these routes seem like they just want to hold a place in case the airline’s strategy shifts. For example, flying from one of the most expensive airports around, Miami, to Cancun wouldn’t seem to fit a low cost carrier model. But it’s a big route so it can’t hurt to hold a spot before someone else takes the authority. It might be worthwhile.

In the end, this will be a big expansion for Volaris. People were worried that the disappearance of miserable Mexicana would leave a vacuum between the US and Mexico. Instead, we see what we always see. A better airline is stepping into its place very quickly.

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22 comments on “Volaris Prepares For Full Scale US Invasion (and That’s a Good Thing)

  1. update….spirit applies for fll-toluca to start in june….avianca has put in a bid to buy any left over assets pf mexicana….by the way avianca took over all the mexicana airbus a318….

  2. It seems most of their target market is the “Family & Friends”. Chicago to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta… these are obviously intended to be used with Southwest “gringo feed”. Can’t wait for Southwest to replace their ancient reservations system so they can do a REAL code share…

  3. Why is it the first thing that popped into my head was Braniff (the original). They started flying to just about everywhere in the country and look what happen. But since you said they would not start all the routes if given the ok at least shows they have some common sense.

    They should just grow at first in the North Mexico to Mexico market…I mean California to Mexico market and build a name for themselves which would help them expand more to other parts of the USA.

    1. I think this is fare more calculated than Braniff, which was just an effort to start any route it could find. We’ll see how they announce their service patterns going forward.

  4. A better airline? Not based on online reviews. I have never flown Vol and never will based on the horror stories I’ve read. They have a history of cancelling flights that are not fully booked and not offering viable alternative transport or compensation to travellers. Google it before you book.

    1. Epinions and the like suffer from a horrible selection bias. I used to really like them, until I realized the only people who’d write reviews are those who had exceptionally bad or good experiences. Sadly this makes the site nearly worthless.

      1. Well then google “Volaris reviews.” You’ll find a pfew positive reviews but a preponderance of negative experiences. I don’t like rolling the dice when I travel.

      2. Very true, online reviews tend to have mostly those who want to complain. Most people who have no problems don’t make the time to go online and give a good review or write to a company saying how nice everything was. Must be human nature or something.

  5. I don’t see how they can add this many transborder routes even with their planned fleet additions. I think the message is clear that they want to be ready to pounce on any MX revival by attacking them head on.

    If you want to write about anything how about the Mexican government is still hanging on to all those MEX slots from carrier besides MX that have been gone quite a while. Even if AM grew and MX restarted the government needs to realize all those slots will never be used by them for years they need to hand them out to more viable aggressive carriers such as Volaris.

  6. 17 of the 23 new routes are to California, so I wouldn’t call this a “full-scale US invasion” just yet. They are barely venturing across the border.

  7. So Cranky, what do you think of today’s piece about a new pedestrian footbridge and border crossing between Tijuana airport and Otay Mesa? I’m guessing it’s good news for travel between southern SoCal and Mexico, but that bit about freeing up all the unmet demand from San Diego to Asia … oh well.

    1. I didn’t see the piece, but it makes sense. Volaris already has bus service to go from San Diego to Tijuana Airport and that seems to do well for them. Making it so people can get over more easily is a good thing. It saves money for people traveling within Mexico for sure by avoiding international taxes.

  8. Volaris?
    Bad stuff! I am a retiree and tried to save a couple bucks flying Volaris from Ontario CA to Guatemala for my Medical Check/up. I bought a One Way ticket!
    When I had to change my flight date, then it was the problem. Not only they had a “Bad and horrible” Customers Service, but I had to pay I think about $70 to change my flight date. By my “New” flight date I had been scheduled for a new Doctor visit. I called VOLARIS. After a very long wait, I had somebody in the line and they told me I had to pay $58 for change of date. I did not have my Credit Card I they told be I could better call 4 hours before the flight or loose all my money. I keep trying to get hold of their Customer Service for a couple hours. Finnaly I got somebody in the line. They said yes, I could change my fly date but I had to pay $85+ I said OK I will pay other 85 bucks. They they said, well there is also a price adjustment and the total would be $210 adjustment plus the $85 change of date… The recording if there is any will be in Spanish because the lady’s who took my call spoke “much better Spanish”
    All this added up, make me loose all my money!!! Now I will have to buy a new Air Fare……..In another Airline, of course.

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