Fresno's airport is officially "international" again

FRESNO, California

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Water cannons greeted the first flight from Guadalajara on the tarmac. Inside the terminal, the mood was also festive, with mariachis entertaining passengers arriving for the first flight out.

The celebration caught some passengers by surprise. "I thought, 'maybe there's going to be someone famous coming!' I don't know," said Blanca Gonzalez of Turlock.

Gonzalez and her family members drove to Fresno from Turlock headed to visit family members in Guadalajara. They're looking forward to flying out of Fresno more often. "We you to Sacramento, there's more traffic. So it's more convenient to drive this way, and it's closer, I think," said Gonzalez.

Monday's festivities were a bit like Déjà Vu for FYI. In April of 2006, a similar celebration was held when Mexicana Airlines began offering the first ever international flights out of the airport. That airline pulled out last year after it filed for bankruptcy, despite local success.

Fresno's Aviation Director, Russ Widmar, said the addition of Aeromexico and Volaris will mean an additional $150,000 a month in ticket and parking fees alone. Both airlines will be offering flights seven days a week. Widmar is expecting 200 more passengers a day. "As long as we have two airlines competing head to head, with competitive fares, I think we'll see skyrocketing demand," said Widmar.

The sold out flights both in and out of Fresno Monday are proof there is a demand for non-stop flights to Mexico. Claudia Torres of Selma brought her parents to the airport Monday night and was thankful they didn't have to battle L.A. traffic. "Now maybe they can travel every year, now that it's closer. Maybe they'll travel more because it's closer," said Torres.

Aeromexico said its first six flights out of FYI are completely booked. Volaris will start flying in and out of Fresno on April 14.

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Valley ready for return of international flights
Dale Yurong

Monday night's arrival of an AeroMexico jetliner to FYI Airport marks the return of international service to Fresno. AeroMexico's inaugural flight out of Fresno-Yosemite will get a grand send-off.

The carrier fills a large void left when Mexicana Airlines went bankrupt last summer.

AeroMexico's first flight into Fresno was full with 124 passengers. The first 11:50pm flight to Guadalajara was also sold out.

AeroMexico's North America Sales Vice-president Jorge Goytortua said it's a good sign. Goytortua said, "We as a carrier understand that we have a social responsibility within the customers to connect the cities and to also build commercial relationships between the two countries."

AeroMexico is Mexico's largest carrier. The airline will fly a Boeing 737-700 in and out of Fresno with seven flights a week.

De Alba Travel Manager Laura Martinez has already been busy booking flights to Mexico for spring break and summer. Martinez said, "They started with a real good special. It was like 250-dollars round-trip. That was cheap. Right now they're in the 300's."

Ticket sales at FYI Airport have been flat since August, when Mexicana Airlines left.

Aviation Director Russ Widmar said travelers will now benefit from having two carriers serving Mexico. Volaris begins service later this month.

Widmar explained, "I think this is a little different market now with the low fares and the competition I really do think that by the end of April we'll see a record month, certainly for international travel."

Your first piece of luggage is free on AeroMexico. A second piece costs $40-dollars.

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