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What pandemic? Alaska Airlines adding new nonstops between San Diego and Mexico, Florida

Cancun, Mexico
A tourist fishes from the shore in Cancun, Mexico, on June 11, 2020. The resort town’s normally crowded beaches have been thinned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
(The Associated Press)

Among the new destinations for Alaska is Cancun, which has not had nonstop service from San Diego in more than a decade

Planning ahead for a return to air travel next year, Alaska Airlines has announced it will be adding three new nonstop routes out of San Diego — Cancun, Mexico; Fort Lauderdale, Fla; and Missoula, Mont.

None of the three destinations are currently served by any airline operating out of San Diego International Airport, and it will be the first time in more than a decade that there has been a nonstop flight to Cancun, normally a popular tourist destination.

While it may seem odd for any airline to be adding new routes at a time when far fewer people are traveling by air these days, Alaska says it is preparing for the time when demand grows for leisure travel.

“San Diego is an important focus city for Alaska, and we’re always looking at opportunities to grow our footprint,” Brett Catlin, Alaska’s managing director of capacity planning and alliances, said in an emailed statement. “As our guests begin to return to the skies, we believe leisure travel will play an increasingly influential part of overall demand. Our additions between San Diego and Florida, Montana and Mexico are a key part of our network diversification plans.”

The three new nonstop routes are:

  • Cancun, a seasonal flight that will operate four times weekly starting Nov. 20, 2020 and going through April 12, 2021.
  • Fort Lauderdale, which will have three nonstop flights a week beginning Nov. 21.
  • Missoula, a daily flight beginning March 11, 2021.

“The announcement of three new routes is welcome news for our region,” said Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority CEO. “Our team has been in discussions with Alaska about nonstop service to Cancun for a couple of years, so I’m happy our diligent efforts are paying off.”
Before the pandemic, there were 46 people who daily flew each way to and from Cancun via connecting flights, San Diego airport spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo said. For Missoula, the flight count, pre-pandemic, was 22 individuals each way on a daily basis. Up until the arrival of COVID-19, JetBlue had flown nonstop to Fort Lauderdale, but has since suspended that service. It averaged 216 people flying daily each way in 2019, LoPiccolo said.

The most recent figures from the Transportation Security Administration show that passenger volumes are down by about 74 percent from the same time a year ago.

Tickets for the new flights are already on sale at alaskaair.com. Alaska Airlines, which is the second largest carrier operating out of the San Diego airport, will serve 27 cities with the addition of the three new routes.


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