Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > Editorial: Keep Delta, Aeromexico Travel Pact in Place

Editorial: Keep Delta, Aeromexico Travel Pact in Place

April 11, 2024

Photo credit: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News

The Detroit News
March 27, 2024

Far more diplomacy is in order before the Department of Transportation moves ahead with its tentative plans to unravel the partnership between Delta Airlines and Aeromexico, a move that would make travel between Detroit and Mexico City more cumbersome.

The joint venture, in place since 2016, allows the two airlines to coordinate routes, pricing and scheduling and has resulted in 18 more direct flights daily between the U.S. and Mexico, including several from Detroit/Wayne County Metropolitan Airport.

The added convenience matters. Detroit’s automotive industry has extensive operations in Mexico and is heavily dependent on Mexican suppliers. Improved connectivity makes the cross-border relationship far more efficient.

Without the partnership between Delta and Aeromexico, travelers from Detroit can expect flights with multiple stops at other airports.

DOT is upset with how the Mexican government is managing the Mexico City International Airport, specifically its decision to shift cargo flights to a nearby airport and reduce passenger traffic overall.

Capacity at the airport “has been reduced over the last [three seasons] to the detriment of both current air carriers and potential new entrants,” agency officials wrote. The concern is that fewer slots at the airport and moving cargo to another airport will raise travel and shipping costs.

Letters from 11 members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and a group of 15 Hispanic congressional members urge Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to explore alternative options for addressing the agency’s policy objectives, rather than taking a step that would damage tourism and business travel.

“The Department’s actions would disrupt seamless leisure and business travel between the U.S. and Mexico and would harm Michigan’s economy,” the Michigan lawmakers wrote.

The cross-border partnership has benefited the two airlines and their customers. Automakers are among the primary beneficiary. Ford Motor Co. alone booked 8,228 trips to Mexico City last year.

In addition, 500,000 tourists annually visit Michigan from Mexico, spending an average $1,500 each, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The availability of so many non-stop flights out of Detroit is a competitive advantage for companies here that do business with Mexico.

The beef is between the two governments, and not the airlines, both of which have protested the DOT’s decision.

Delta and Aeromexico responded to the DOT move in February, saying that the two companies “have no responsibility to control” the Mexican government’s changes at the Mexico City airport, adding such concerns should be addressed using other means.

“The department’s generalized displeasure with the actions of a foreign government — devoid of concrete details as to why those actions supposedly contravene the applicable bilateral agreement or harm U.S. aviation interests — is not a legitimate basis to rescind an (agreement) that has been in place for over seven years,” Delta and Aeromexico attorneys wrote.

Ending the bilateral agreement is a decision of enormous consequence for travelers, as well as for the automotive and airline industry. Following through on the decision will make travel to Mexico more difficult and costly.

That’s not in anyone’s best interest. The Department of Transportation should continue negotiating with its Mexican counterparts to preserve an agreement that has an established track record of success.

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