March 08–San Antonio International Airport saw a spike in international travelers in January as passenger traffic set a record, airport officials said Wednesday.
More than 702,000 passengers landed at or flew out of the San Antonio airport in January, according to the airport’s monthly statistics report released Wednesday. That’s a nearly 8 percent increase from the 652,000 travelers the airport saw in January 2017 — its 19th consecutive month of record growth, according to new data from the airport.
Increases in domestic airline capacity along with new routes from low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines contributed to a 7 percent uptick in domestic travel to and from San Antonio International, aviation officials said in the report. More than 671,000 domestic passengers traveled through the airport in January, compared with about 626,000 the year before.
International traffic to the San Antonio airport grew by almost 23 percent to more than 31,000 passengers in January from about 26,000 during the same month last year. Aviation officials attributed the jump primarily to Mexican airline Volaris’ nonstop route from Mexico City to San Antonio, launched in September, and Air Canada’s route to Toronto that began in May.
But the ongoing decline in the Mexican peso and "current macro-level economic and political uncertainties continue to suppress demand" from Mexico to the San Antonio airport, the airport’s air service administrator, Brian Pratte, wrote to Aviation Director Russ Handy in the airport’s monthly report on passenger traffic.
Tourism officials have warned that President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration — particularly his support for building a U.S.-Mexico border wall, banning travel from Muslim-majority countries and deporting millions of people believed to be in the country illegally — would discourage travel from foreign countries.
The U.S. saw fewer international tourists last year. The U.S. Department of Commerce in February reported a 3.6 percent decrease in foreign travel to the U.S. during the first eight months of 2017.
International travel to the San Antonio airport plunged by nearly 8 percent to about 386,000 international passengers in 2017 from more than 400,000 in 2016. Handy previously told the Express-News that the political climate and Mexican peso’s devaluation were contributing factors in the downturn.
But Handy said the decrease could also be due to Southwest Airlines ending its San Antonio-Mexico City route in March 2016, and Mexican airliners Aeromexico and Interjet cutting the frequency of their daily flights to Monterrey and Toluca.
However, the San Antonio airport began seeing positive trends in international travel toward the end of the year that officials expect to continue as the peso regains value.
Joshua Fechter is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. — firstname.lastname@example.org — Twitter: @JFreports
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