Mérida, Yucatán — The first passengers to take advantage of Aeroméxico’s new Atlanta-Mérida route got a lot more than the standard flight attendant’s “buh-bye” when they landed on the tarmac.
Flight 2717 was greeted with a traditional “water salute” as it taxied toward its gate at Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport. The governor and other state officials lined up on the tarmac to shake hands with the first arrivals.
And the media were there to record the story for posterity. Diario de Yucatán ran a six-column photo of the occasion on Saturday.
“Actually, we enjoyed all the attention starting in Atlanta all the way to Mérida,” said Ilona Saunders, who traveled with her husband Craig on the inaugural flight.
Since Friday, a daily flight of up to 99 passengers has arrived, coming from the world’s busiest airport, in Atlanta, Ga.
The flight, which flies under an alliance with Delta Airlines, is important to Yucatán, especially since Aeroméxico ditched its Miami flights. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a major hub, connecting Yucatán to airports in 130 cities and 50 countries.
Delta’s hub there is the world’s largest, with 1,000 flights daily.
The corporate director of Aeroméxico Sales, Jorge Goytortua Bores, said that Yucatán is the company’s third most important route nationwide.
Yucatán’s governor, Rolando Zapata Bello, pressed the flesh with several passengers as they descended the aircraft. He told local media that the flight represents a wide variety of commercial and tourist opportunities for the state.
Saunders, who is moving to Mérida after living in Connecticut for many years, agrees.
“It will be such a boon to tourism in Mérida, especially visitors from the northeast of the U.S.,” she said.
The average flight between Atlanta and Mérida is $420 USD round trip, rising during peak travel times such as holidays.
Aeroméxico also began direct flights from Atlanta to both Querétaro and Monterrey on Nov. 1.
With information from Sipse, Diario de Yucatán