After midnight on Friday, a jet belonging to Volaris Airlines will fly from Ontario International Airport to Guadalajara, Mexico. That will launch the Mexican discount airline's twice weekly service between the two airports.
The good news for the Ontario Airport: Volaris is its first new airline since 2007. What could be the bad news: another Mexican airline, Aeromexico, is already flying the same route out of the same airport. Aviation consultant Jack Keady questions whether that's good for either the airlines or the airport.
"Two airlines competing on the exact same route? Now why would you do that if you're trying to develop the Mexico market?" Keady asked.
If the two airlines flew to different destinations in Mexico, Keady said, that would be synergy, and Ontario would begin to be known as an airport developing good service to Mexico.
"In this case, you just have two airlines going to the same place," Keady said. "You're just going to split the existing market."
The airlines and Ontario Airport officials believe that market might actually be big enough to split.
"There's a huge Hispanic or Latino community in the Inland Empire, so the area will be definitely serviced well by both airlines," said Ontario Airport spokeswoman Maria Tesoro, adding that another airline serving Guadalajara means more options for travelers. "Overall, it's better to have more airlines at Ontario - especially now - than less."
In a statement announcing the new service, Volaris Chief Executive Officer, Enrique Beltranena, referred to arriving in Ontario as "a significant step in stimulating the market of those who visit family and friends between Mexico and the U.S."
Keady predicts a test of wills and pocketbooks between the two carriers. Volaris is new, but well-financed. Aeromexico is well established. The danger begins for Ontario if the airlines start talking to each other and decide neither has managed to make a profit on the Ontario-Guadalajara route, said Keady.
"If both carriers dropped out, that could put Ontario in a black hole for a long time," Keady said.
The airport is already climbing out of a hole as a result of the recession. Since 2007, it's air passenger traffic has fallen more than 40%.