By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
With the reopening of Canada to nonessential travel, Air Canada began restarting flights between Mexico and the Land of the Maple Leaf this week, but said it has no plans to use President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial pet project of the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) in Santa Lucia.
During an online media conference on Wednesday, Sept. 8 (just one day after Canada reopened its borders to properly documented international tourists), Air Canada Latin America sales director Luis Noriega Benet told reporters that the airlines “has no plans” to carry out operations at the AIFA, which AMLO wants to replace the country’s main airport in Mexico City.
Pressed on the issue by reporters, Noriega Benet said that there are currently “no studies to confirm the feasibility” of flying to the Felipe Ángeles Airport.
“As for the Felipe Ángeles, we are not contemplating it at this time,” he said.
“It still has a long ways to go. It is not yet completed, and we need to do feasibility studies and studies on the capacity of the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), so it is not currently in our plans.”
Noriega Benet’s statement came just one day after Mexico’s Communications and Transportation (SCT) Secretary Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal announced that the government will limit flights to the AICM between 2022 and 2023 to 61 percent of current operations, in order to force airlines to use the AIFA.
Meanwhile, Noriega said that Air Canada is planning to relaunch 50 flights daily between Canada and Mexico, and is maintaining strict sanitary standards to ensure the safety of all its passengers and staff.
He added that all Air Canada personnel are required to be fully vaccinated by the end of October and every Air Canada passenger is given a complementary covid-19 prevention kit that contains antibacterial gel and face masks.
“The safety of our passengers has always been a priority at Air Canada,” he said.
In order to enter Canada, Noriega Benet pointed out, all passengers must be fully vaccinated against covid with one of the four vaccines approved by Canada Health (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson) and have had a negative PCR test with 72 hours of landing, as well as a plan for 14 days of quarantine in Canada, should it be required.
Noriega Benet also noted that the flight between Mexico City and Toronto was one of the only five flights that the company did not suspend during the covid pandemic.
He noted that these requirements were established by the Canadian government and apply to all foreign visitors entering the country, regardless of which airline they use.
By the end of next year, Noriega Benet said, Air Canada is hoping to reestablish pre-pandemic travel numbers between the two countries.