DOT Should Preserve Partnership Between Delta, Aeromexico

By Maru Mora Villalpando

A “tentative decision” by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) could have far-reaching, negative consequences for the Latino community in Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest. As the founder of Latino Advocacy, I have grave concerns with the impact this move will have on the people and communities for whom we advocate and fight to support.

In retaliation against Mexico for potential violations of the U.S.-Mexico air services agreement, the DOT recently announced it is considering terminating the approval of an agreement between Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico that has been in place since 2017. The Joint Cooperation Agreement (JCA) is a strategic partnership between the two airlines that has helped improve access to and increase travel between the United States and Mexico, benefiting consumers, passengers, and both countries’ economies.

If the DOT moves forward with its tentative decision to terminate the approval of the JCA in response to actions by the Mexican government, it would be an unprecedented policy move. Never before has the DOT taken such retaliatory actions against U.S. citizens, jobs, air service, businesses small and large, and consumers just to push a diplomatic agenda with another country. While some officials may see termination of the JCA as punishment for Mexico’s potential violations, this decision would hurt people in the U.S., particularly in the Latino community, while costing jobs and undermining economic opportunities.

Terminating approval of the agreement between Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico would put nearly two dozen non-stop flights between the United States and Mexico at risk of cancellation, including non-stop service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Benito Juárez International Airport. Changes or a cancellation of that one route alone would impact more than 400,000 passengers that fly that route annually.

Such an extreme move as terminating the JCA would make it exponentially harder and more expensive for people in the U.S. to travel to and from Mexico, which would be particularly for the Latino/Mexican community in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the country. For many people residing in the U.S. with families in Mexico, the JCA has been instrumental in opening access and reducing travel costs to help them stay connected with loved ones regardless of which side of the border they live on.

The tentative decision to end the JCA approval would undermine the economic opportunities communities in both countries have enjoyed since it was put into place, putting thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual GDP at risk. Considering Mexico is now the U.S.’s top trading partner for the first time in two decades, now is the time to support more cross-border collaboration and connection, not undermine it.

There must be better ways to resolve our countries’ diplomatic disagreements or differences than threatening local jobs, hurting local small businesses, and restricting access and travel between residents and families of the United States and Mexico. Officials and policymakers at the DOT should rethink this tentative decision and approve the JCA without delay while the Administration works to find a more effective, less harmful solution to resolve potential violations of the U.S.-Mexico air services agreement.

Maru Mora Villalpando is a community organizer and immigrant. She was born and raised in Mexico City In the U.S., she has spent more than two decades working for racial justice and immigrant rights.