After just a year and a half, Mexicana Airlines says that it is suspending service from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Mexico City today.
It's the second time that the airline has launched BWI service and then pulled back. Mexicana offered a daily flight to Cancun in 1986, but the airline said the route was unprofitable, and it was canceled five years later.
Officials thought that business travelers and a bigger community of Mexican-Americans would make it a go this time. Daily service began in December 2005. But the airline said yesterday that competition has led to a "restructuring," and the planes are headed back to Mexico.
"Mexicana Airlines has decided to temporarily suspend its nonstop route between Mexico City and Baltimore-Washington, due to the restructuring process the company is currently undergoing, which require reorganizing its fleet resources to strengthen its domestic network," the airline said in a written statement.
"Notwithstanding, the airline will continue to study the viability of this route and certain others in the United States, with a view to preserving its leading position on the US-Mexican market."
The airline noted that BWI passengers can book a seat to Mexico City on its partner carrier, American Airlines, and earn credit under the frequent flyer program. Those flights are not nonstop.
Mexicana now serves 16 U.S. cities and 50 destinations in total. Officials did not say if other U.S. airports would be affected.
Jonathan Dean, BWI spokesman, said Mexicana faces heavy competition from new discount carriers in Mexico and needs to bolster service there.
"The airline has indicated this is a temporary business decision, and Mexicana hopes to resume BWI service in the future," he said.
The carrier's withdrawal will leave six international carriers, serving mostly the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada. British Airways offers a daily flight to London. Air Greenland plans to launch service May 24 from BWI.
The international terminal has struggled since it opened in 1997 to attract and keep overseas carriers because there are larger foreign gateways at Philadelphia International and Washington Dulles airports. Dulles offers direct service to Mexico City.
In recent years, BWI has landed USA 3000 service to Bermuda and is in talks with Ryanair for service to Europe. But it has lost Air Ghana and Aer Lingus.