TOKYO -- All Nippon Airways will start daily direct flights between Japan and Mexico in the second half of fiscal 2016, tapping surging demand for business travel as Japanese companies make inroads into the country.
The ANA Holdings unit will offer one round-trip flight per day between Tokyo-area Narita Airport and Mexico City, the capital. The route will be served by a Boeing 787-8, the latest-model midsize jet from the American aerospace manufacturer.
Flight times, schedules and other details remain undecided. The direct flight is seen shaving around 3 hours off travel times between Japan and Mexico City compared with current itineraries involving connections in the U.S.
The Narita-Mexico City route is now served only by Mexican flag carrier Aeromexico, which offers four round-trip flights per week. Japan Airlines once flew the route but ended service in 2010, when it filed for bankruptcy. ANA will be the first Japanese carrier in around seven years to offer service between the cities.
ANA opened a Mexico City office in 2015 to attract corporate customers ahead of the launch of the new flights. It began service that June from Narita to the U.S. city of Houston, a gateway to destinations in Central and South America. Service to Mexico is handled through a code-sharing arrangement with United Airlines.
Japanese automakers are leading the charge into Mexico. More than 800 companies from Japan had a Mexican presence in 2014. Passengers who traveled between the two countries in 2014 totaled 142,400 on a one-way basis, up nearly 20% on the year. The figures are seen surging further after the Trans-Pacific Partnership free agreement takes effect.
The Mexico City airport sits more than 2,000 meters above sea level, reportedly making takeoff with a full fuel load a challenge. ANA will consider limiting passenger numbers and cargo weight to cope until more efficient engines are available.