United Airlines plans to resume flights between Merida and Houston beginning Dec. 1. Photo: AP

After numerous false starts, United Airlines will officially resume its Houston-Merida route, bringing a second direct flight between Yucatan and the United States by Dec. 1.

Flights will be scheduled four times weekly, and could go daily on Dec. 17 for the holiday season, Yucatan’s tourism ministry announced.

This would create 166 available seats, with a possible 2,490 by the end of 2020. The route is confirmed until the first quarter of 2021 and subject to changes under coronavirus contingencies.

The revived route was announced by Yucatan’s minister of tourism, Michelle Fridman Hirsch. At a press conference, she was joined by Óscar Carrillo Maldonado, administrator of Merida’s Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport.

International flights in Merida have always been an issue. The Atlanta route appears gone for good, and long-ago talks about direct flights to Las Vegas have gone silent. Nonstops to New York City are a thing of the distant past. Skyscanner also showed no scheduled direct flights to Toronto or any other airports in Canada.

American Airlines reactivated its Miami-Merida route Oct. 8, and increased them to daily on Wednesday.

Yucatan’s gradual airport recovery began June 11 with domestic flights to cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Veracruz, Tijuana, Tuxtla, Monterrey and Cancun.

The Ministry of Tourism reported that since June, the airport has built its frequencies to include nine national and two international routes representing 18,089 seats on 121 flights. That amounts to a 54.1% recovery of February’s pre-pandemic numbers.

Arriving flights nearly half full, the tourism department said.

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