Cheap Mexican Discount Flights Known As 'MIGRANT AIR' takes crossers closer to USA

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Sat Oct 13 19:08:34 MDT 2007

[Courtesy of dRAt:]



Cheap Mexican Discount Flights Known As
'MIGRANT AIR' takes crossers closer to USA

By Chris Hawley - USA TODAY

Republic of Mexico City Bureau | Oct 12, 2007 12:00 AM

MEXICALI, Mexico..., ­ Mexican discount airlines are using rock-bottom
fares to cater to legal and illegal [alien] migrants heading for the USA.

These new discount airlines in Mexico, jokingly 
known among travelers as Aeromigrante, or 
"Migrant Air" are doing a brisk business 
shuttling migrants to the U.S. Border, turning 
what was once a days-long trek in to an easy hop 
for legions of workers, both legal and illegal. ­

"It's much more comfortable than the bus and 
about the same price," said Leopoldo Torres, 37, 
of Mexico City, as he stretched his legs aboard 
Volaris Flight 190 to the border city of Mexicali.

He and a traveling companion, Julio Menéndez, 40, 
paid $118 each, for their three-hour discount 
flight to the border city of Mexicali, Mexico. 
They planned to cross into the United States 
illegally through the California desert.

Such migrants have become bread-and-butter 
customers for airlines Volaris, Avolar, Alma, 
Viva Aerobus, Interjet and Click, all of which 
have started up in the past two years. Older 
carriers such as Aero California and Aviacsa have 
cut their own prices to compete.

"The most productive routes we have are cities 
where you have those passengers who are traveling 
with the idea of the American Dream," said Luis 
Ceceña, a spokesman for Avolar. About 70 percent 
of Avolar's passengers are migrants, he said.

For some airlines like Avolar, the emphasis on 
migrant travel was a conscious decision, with 
company officials structuring their routes and 
fares around migrants' needs, he said. For 
others, it was simply a side effect of low 
prices, which have opened up air travel to millions of poorer Mexicans.

The airlines say they treat migrants like any 
other passengers. The Mexican government has 
promised to try to slow emigration by creating 
jobs in Mexico. But by law, Mexican authorities 
and companies cannot impede the free travel of 
their fellow citizens, even if they suspect they 
are going to cross the U.S. border illegally.

Heading for the desert

Travelers planning to cross illegally are easy to 
spot. At the Hermosillo airport, a major 
crossroads for migrants headed to the Arizona 
desert, they are the men traveling in groups of 
three and four, wearing new sneakers or hiking 
boots and carrying nothing but backpacks.

"Altar! Naco! Nogales!" taxi dispatcher Javier 
Montaño shouted outside the airport as he 
directed travelers to vans headed to the main 
staging grounds for illegal border crossers.

Because of the increased traffic, Mexican 
immigration agents now check the IDs of all 
arriving passengers, even on domestic flights, to 
try to catch Central American migrants headed to 
the border. In Hermosillo, federal police conduct 
spot checks on the vans before they leave the airport.

"By law, we can't stop the Mexican (migrants)," 
police Officer Carlos Zequera Arias said. "But 
the Central Americans are starting to get on these flights, too."

Falling prices

Until the flood of discount airlines began in 
2005, air travel in Mexico was too expensive for 
most poor Mexicans. A one-way flight from central 
Mexico to Tijuana ran $300 or more on the 
country's two flag carriers, Aeromexico and Mexicana.

For most migrants, getting to the border meant 
days of travel on long-distance buses - or for 
the very poor, a harrowing and illegal ride on 
Mexico's railways while clinging to a freight car.

The discount airlines cut costs by copying the 
business model of U.S. carrier Southwest 
Airlines. They fly out of smaller airports, make 
several stops on the same trip, bypass 
travel-agent fees by selling directly to 
customers, and concentrate on a few high-volume 
routes instead of a hub-and-spoke system.

Typical fares to Tijuana from Toluca, just east 
of Mexico City, are now around $150 on the discount airlines.

That has opened up air travel to millions of new 
customers, said José Calderoni, marketing 
director for Volaris. About one-third of the 
airline's passengers have never flown before, he said.

Overall, the number of Mexicans flying has jumped 
36 percent since 2004. About 13.4 million people 
took domestic flights from January to June, 
according to Mexico's Institute of Statistics, 
Geography and Information Processing.

The discount airlines have been adding planes and 
routes at a breakneck pace. Avolar has grown from 
one jetliner and three destinations to nine with 
16 destinations. Viva Aerobus has 21 destinations 
and plans to double its fleet to 10 jets from 
five. Interjet has nine planes and says it will 
order 20 more. Alma has 15 regional jets and 25 
destinations, Volaris has 12 planes and 17 
destinations, while Click has 26 destinations with 18 planes and six on order.

Migrants said one factor drawing them to airlines 
is the increasing difficulty of crossing the 
border. As the United States builds fences and 
adds Border Patrol agents, smugglers known as 
coyotes or polleros have raised their fees from $1,000 to $2,000 or more.

"So 2,000 pesos (about $180) for a plane ticket 
is nothing anymore," said Guillermo Hernández of 
San Marcos, Guerrero state, as he arrived in 
Hermosillo on an Aviacsa flight. "You get here 
rested, and you don't have to pay for food along the way."

Some of the discount airlines' fares and routes 
reflect their emphasis on migrants headed north, said Ceceña of Avolar.

Avolar, for example, has direct flights to 
Hermosillo from three central Mexican cities but 
not a single flight going south. Volaris charges 
$77 for a Toluca-Hermosillo flight, but only $48 going the other direction.

"Our routes attract many people who want to cross 
the border. These are one-way passengers, which 
is hard for us because, of course, we want to 
sell round-trip tickets," Volaris' Calderoni said.

On the day that Torres flew to Mexicali, the 
144-seat Volaris jetliner was mostly full. On the 
return trip a week later, there were only 31 passengers.

The migrant trade is also seasonal, Calderoni 
said. Most migrants go north in the cooler 
months, when crossing the desert is easier. 
Southbound travel increases during the Christmas 
season, when many migrants come home with gifts and money.

The airlines say they are trying to get even more 
migrant business. Avolar is offering Greyhound 
bus connections from Tijuana to Fresno, Calif., 
where many migrants work on farms. Aero 
California takes payments through Western Union, 
used by many migrants to send money home. Volaris 
says it will launch a regional advertising 
campaign focusing on smaller towns, where many migrants come from.

"People can say what they want, Migrant Air or 
whatever," Ceceña said. "But we have a saying in 
Mexico, 'Let the other hens cackle; you take care 
of your own eggs.' It's a good business for us, 
and we're going to keep taking care of those customers."

AMERICAN'S:  Dumb, Stupid, and Ignorant...!!!

Mexico and all them Mexican's, are laughing their butts off.
Even that guy on the plane is biting his tongue, doing all he
can to keep from grinning -- more than he already is. Even
I can see that... Talk about stupid, dumb and ignorant. Can
we get any more stupid, or any more dumber, or any more
ignorant, that we already are...? Guess what? I honestly do
think we can! And that, really is dumb, stupid and ignorant.

So when are we going to start telling the government to go
BITE US, get out our guns and go do something about it?

After all it's quite obvious to me, it's the government's fault.
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