The first nonstop flights from McCarran International Airport to Mexico from a U.S.-based air carrier were announced Tuesday, when representatives said Frontier Airlines will start air service to two Mexican resort cities in December.
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. America West Airlines offered nonstop flights to Mexico from Las Vegas when it operated. Most international service to McCarran is provided by foreign air carriers.
Flights to Cancun will leave Las Vegas about 10 a.m. Mondays and Fridays, with the return flight arriving about 8 p.m. The Saturday Cabo flight will leave Las Vegas about noon, returning at 7 p.m. Fares will start at $79 one way.
“I guess we’re the Las Vegas NAFTA carrier,” said Joshua Flyr, vice president of network planning for Frontier. “It obviously was not an intentional thing, but we’re proud of the fact that we’re now the only U.S. carrier giving international access (for Mexico and Canada) to the Las Vegas market.”
Frontier has been one of the fastest-growing commercial air carriers at McCarran the past two years. When the Mexico round trips begin, Frontier will have 141 flights a week to 31 nonstop destinations. Frontier is now McCarran’s eighth-busiest airline by number of flights with the third-most destinations, behind Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air.
Las Vegas was Frontier’s third-largest market, behind Denver and Orlando, Florida, in 2017 with 1.4 million seats routed to the city annually.
Frontier furthered its reach into Mexico this month with the implementation of a code-share agreement with Mexican discount carrier Volaris.
Through the agreement, announced in January and the first for an ultra-low-cost carrier, Frontier can sell connecting flights to Volaris destinations in Mexico and Volaris can sell on the Frontier network in the United States, where the airline has 99 destinations. Cancun and Las Vegas are primary connecting points between Frontier and Volaris, Flyr said.
The agreement incorporates ticketing and baggage service between airlines. Frontier owner Indigo Partners is a shareholder in Volaris.
Ultra-low-cost carriers generally offer the lowest airfares for travelers but charge extra for ancillary services, including baggage and carry-on luggage, food and drinks, and seat selection.
Frontier is unusual in that it offers either a low-cost fare with ancillary fees or a higher fare that includes the most popular added services.
Frontier has 82 Airbus twin-engine jets and will fly 186-passenger Airbus A-320 jets to Mexico from Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and McCarran collaborated to recruit Frontier to establish the route.
Michael Goldsmith, vice president of marketing for the LVCVA, and Chris Jones, chief marketing officer of the Clark County Department of Aviation, were on hand with Frontier’s Joshua Flyr for Tuesday’s announcement.
“In the majority of the routes we serve to Las Vegas, Las Vegas is very much the destination for obvious reasons, as a world-class destination,” Flyr said. “In the case of Cancun in particular, there is a significant market for the origin of Las Vegas, people living here who want to go to Cancun, but also Cancun residents who want to come to Las Vegas. We don’t know the exact split, but typically the route would be 89 percent destination (to) Las Vegas, but this is a bigger split.”