American Airlines launched its new Tijuana-Phoenix daily flight Thursday.

The nonstop service between the Tijuana International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport marks the return of international flights to Tijuana, the first since 2020, and the first route operated by a U.S. airline, officials said.

The inaugural flight was greeted with a ceremonial water salute on the runway upon arrival from Phoenix to Tijuana. The U.S. and Mexican flags were waved from the cockpit windows, drawing applause from passengers and officials who witnessed the moment from the airport.

Among them was Michael Coppick, who, after a two-week vacation in Mexico, was looking for a way to fly to Arizona to spend some time with his sister before returning home to Vancouver Island.

He took Volaris’ flight from Zihuatanejo to Tijuana, and then the airline suggested a connection with American Airlines’ Tijuana-Phoenix flight, he said. “I assumed that was normal, but I didn’t know it was special,” he said of the service’s first flight.

Service will be offered daily on an Embraer 175 aircraft with 76-passenger capacity. Flying time is approximately 1½ hours. It departs from Phoenix at 11:15 a.m. for arrival at 11:42 a.m. local time. From Tijuana it departs at 12:22 p.m. for arrival at 2:42 p.m.

Tijuana is now the 27th destination for American Airlines in Mexico, said José María Giraldo with American Airlines.

A water salute douses an American Airlines plane to celebrate the first direct flight between Tijuana and Phoenix.

A water salute douses an American Airlines plane to celebrate the first direct flight between Tijuana and Phoenix.

(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Tijuana is a destination that has grown quite a bit,” he said. Giraldo added that tourist sites such as Rosarito or Valle de Guadalupe, along with the state’s medical tourism industry, are generating “a lot of tourist traffic.”

Nearly 59 percent of Baja California’s tourists come from the U.S., of which 8 percent are from Arizona, according to Baja California officials.

“This direct connection will not only boost tourism, generating well-being for Baja Californians, but it will also open up new opportunities to attract international visitors and promote foreign investment, as well as diverse tourism operations, real estate and medical tourism, and to renew our friendly ties with the United States,” said Baja California Secretary of Tourism Miguel Aguiñiga.

For now, it will be the only direct flight available from the Tijuana airport to any U.S. destination.

There used to be a Tijuana-Oakland flight, operated by Mexican airline Volaris, but it ended in late 2018, said Raúl Revuelta, CEO of Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico, which operates the Tijuana airport.

Michael Coppick prepares to take an American Airlines flight from Tijuana to Phoenix.

Michael Coppick prepares to take an American Airlines flight from Tijuana to Phoenix.

(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“We hope that this will gradually become an important milestone that will reopen the door to international flights,” he said.

There are also talks to resume international service between Tijuana and Beijing on Hainan Airlines, a flight that stopped operating in 2020 due to the pandemic, Revuelta said.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/689020076/Ea9T1D5yUw45uGPz?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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