From the Denver Post:
DIA seeks more foreign nonstops
$1 million in incentives dangled for Mexico route
By Greg Griffin
Denver Post Business Writer
Thursday, March 14, 2002
- Denver International Airport is back at work trying to attract nonstop service to faraway destinations.
Mayor Wellington Webb said Wednesday that the city will pay $1 million in marketing incentives to the first carrier to commit to flying daily nonstops between Denver and Mexico City. And airport officials will travel to Paris in May to make another try at luring Air France to DIA.
"We've been talking about trying to get a direct flight to Mexico City for two years. Mexico is a logical next step for us," said Webb's spokesman, Andrew Hudson.
Passengers now must spend about seven hours to get to Mexico City from Denver. A direct flight would take a little over three hours.
The city has had some success with the incentive strategy. British Airways and Lufthansa German Airlines each took the bait when they started service to London and Frankfurt in recent years, though they've said the money wasn't critical in their decisions.
But Air France so far hasn't expressed much public interest in flying to Denver, $1 million or not.
The incentive for Mexico flights indicates that city officials are optimistic that they may have a chance to land the service. In the past, the city has dangled the incentive after already entering discussions with carriers.
The airline must operate the flight for at least a year to receive the incentives.
DIA communications manager Amy Bourgeron said airport officials have discussed nonstop Mexico City flights with Mexicana Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which begins Denver service April 28 and already flies south of the border from several West Coast cities.
Mexicana has flown from Denver for 30 years, but currently offers only one-stop service to Mexico's capital city through various beach resort cities, and the frequency varies by destination.
Webb said members of Denver's business community are clamoring for nonstop flights to Mexico City. Mexico was Colorado's seventh-largest trading partner last year and one of just a handful whose imports from the state grew during the year.
Paris is another coveted route. Bourgeron said the city was making progress in convincing Air France until Sept. 11, which sent the entire airline industry into a financial crisis. Recently, however, Air France officials called and invited Denver officials back in May to restart the talks.
"It's encouraging, a sign that things are starting to recover and airlines are looking forward again," she said.
Mexicana currently flies to Denver 5 times a week, however it stops in either Puerto Vallerta or Los Cabos (depends on the weekday) before arriving in Mexico City.
They've been trying to lure Air France for about 3 years now and have gotten quite close. They'll be discussions this May about starting the route, and the route might be launched sometime next year if all goes well and the airline industry continues to recover as it is now.
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran