Will hiring more staff bring an end to passengers’ woes at Mexico’s second-busiest airport?
Cancún International Airport (CUN) has announced plans to hire additional immigration officials in a bid to reduce wait times for arriving passengers. In scenes reminiscent of the summer chaos seen at many US and European airports, lengthy waits have been reported in recent months by travelers arriving from overseas at the popular Mexican holiday destination.
The lines have led to complaints from many passengers, particularly those who missed their onward travel connections and organized tours as a result. The 130 new hires will boost the total number of immigration officials in the airport’s international arrivals areas to 329 and is one of a number of measures currently being implemented in a bid to ease congestion and improve the passenger experience.
Electronic passport readers were recently introduced, which have helped to speed up the arrivals process. In addition, passengers will no longer be required to complete the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) customs form. The FMM used to be presented on arrival and then again on departure, with a fine in place for those who lost it during their stay. Cancún International Airport is now part of a pilot program to remove the form.
Where are Cancún’s international passengers arriving from?
According to Mexico’s National Institute for Migration, over 7 million international passengers arrived at Cancún International Airport last year. While it was a significant increase on 2020, this figure likely remained partially subdued due to the lingering effect of COVID-related travel restrictions.
This year, however, the number is expected to be much higher. From January through May alone, 4 million international arrivals passed through Cancún International Airport. This was way ahead of Mexico City International Airport’s 1.5 million in the same period.
Unsurprisingly, the US is the largest international market in Cancún, with direct flights from over 40 cities. So far this year, US tourists have accounted for 63% of all international arrivals by air into Mexico.
Cancún International Airport also welcomes a growing number of European carriers, with direct connections to more than 20 airports across the Atlantic, including London Gatwick (British Airways and TUI), Paris Charles de Gaulle (Air France), Frankfurt (Condor, Lufthansa, and Eurowings Discover), and Istanbul (Turkish Airlines).
Among the newest transatlantic flights is TAP Air Portugal’s service from Lisbon, which began last year with the airline’s Airbus A330neo aircraft. It was followed shortly after by Spanish carriers World2fly and Iberojet, both with flights from Madrid on their Airbus A350s.
A strong recovery, and even busier times ahead
In terms of total passenger numbers, Cancún International Airport has been the fourth-busiest airport in Latin America so far this year, behind Mexico City (MEX), Bogotá (BOG), and São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU).
Last year, over 22 million passengers traveled through the airport, almost reaching the pre-pandemic peak of 25 million. With this year expected to be another record-breaker, and with even more international arrivals on the horizon, will the measures that the airport has put in place to minimize wait times be enough?