May 3—HARLINGEN — Days before its first flight touches down at Valley International Airport, the newest airline offering passenger service is doubling its number of flights due to high demand.
Viva Aerobus, the seventh passenger airline flying in and out of VIA, announced it will schedule additional flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in addition to Thursday-Sunday flights which begin this Thursday.
Low-cost Viva Aerobus is Mexico's third-biggest airline and flies out of its hub in Monterrey. From there, passengers can choose from among 30 non-stop flights to destinations including Mexico City, Cancun, Cozumel, Acapulco, Merida, Oaxaca, Villahermosa and San Juan, Costa Rica.
One-way flights to Monterrey will start at $79, airline officials said last month.
The additional flights between Monterrey and Harlingen will begin sometime between May 11 and May 26, VIA officials say.
The strong booking demand for passenger flights to Mexico on Viva Aerobus comes despite a Do Not Travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department in mid-April. Mexico was on the list, along with four-fifths of all countries, due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
"The Department of State strongly recommends U.S. citizens reconsider all travel abroad," a press release from the department said. "This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC's existing epidemiological assessments."
Marv Esterly, director of aviation at VIA, noted in an email exchange that the Do Not Travel alert is merely advisory and that individual passengers can make their own decisions on travel to countries on the State Department list.
"Travel advisory is not a ban on air travel. Just advisory at this point," he wrote. "Bookings for VIVA have been strong."