American Airlines announced last month that it will be offering daily, nonstop service between Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, starting in December.
The airline has served Chihuahua since 2005 from its hub in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and has continued to see strength in that market, according to Kelsey Gion, a spokesperson for American Airlines.
“The new route from Phoenix will benefit both leisure and business travelers, providing a more convenient way to reach Mexico’s largest state from the Valley of the Sun,” Gion said. “While we don’t have additional route announcements at this time, we are continually evaluating opportunities to strengthen and grow our hub in Phoenix.”
American Airlines and its regional airline, American Eagle, offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries, according to a press release. Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is one of nine American Airlines hubs in the United States.
American Airlines is the largest carrier in the Mexico trans-border market as measured by departures and seats, Gion said. This latest flight to Chihuahua International Airport (CUU) marks the 10th destination in Mexico from PHX.
Luis Ramirez, president of Ramirez Advisors Inter-National and an expert in Arizona-Mexico relations, said he believes the new connection will further Arizona’s friendship with Mexico and make life easier for business people who often travel between the two states.
“Our connectivity to Mexico is Mexico City, Guadalajara and every beach resort you can think of,” Ramirez said. “It’s limited when it comes to business centers throughout the country — Monterrey; León, Guanajuato; Chihuahua City. One of the principal points of interconnection from a trade perspective is Culiacán, but we have no flights to Culiacán.”
Ramirez said the new flight is “fantastic” because, although Chihuahua may not be a typical tourism destination for Arizonans, it is certainly a business destination. Additionally, there is a growing trend of people from the state of Chihuahua traveling to Arizona for tourism opportunities, he said.
Previously, people who needed to get to Chihuahua for business would have to take a connecting flight through Hermosillo, Mexico, or they would fly to El Paso, Texas, and drive across the border, Ramirez said.
“Any time I’ve had to go to Chihuahua, one of those two were my only options,” he said.
Arizona is already working on fostering a closer relationship with the state of Chihuahua, he said.
“The governor was here, and he’s a fairly new governor,” Ramirez said, referring to Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral. “As in any state — U.S. or Mexico — when there’s a change in administration, you kind of start all over again in rebuilding. So, with the new governor coming here, there’s a pending invitation for Gov. Ducey to visit Chihuahua.”
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is even considering partnering with Chihuahua and sharing best practices from the state’s relationship with Sonora, Mexico, Ramirez said.
Arizona and Chihuahua both excel in the automotive, aerospace and mining industries, creating “synergies” between the states.
“For instance, Caterpillar mining has set up their headquarters out of Tucson,” Ramirez said. “They do business all over northwest and central Mexico, which includes Chihuahua. All that business is out of Tucson.”
The existing business relationships between Arizona and Chihuahua indicate that a direct flight between the two states might make life easier for companies like Caterpillar, and the mining industry is a top priority in both states, he said.
“We’re busy promoting the development of a supply chain — whether it’s services, equipment, maintenance, whatever — for the mining sector,” Ramirez said. “When you look at Chihuahua, Sonora and Arizona, our mining sector is even $5 [billion], $10 [billion], $15 billion worth of investment over the next three to five years. It’s huge amounts of investment and job creation that is coming along.”