Canada-Mexico Sign Expanded Air Travel Agreement, More Direct Flights Soon to Open

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 19, 2014 12:47 PM EST

Frequent Canadian air travelers may soon expect more direct flights between the country and Mexico following an expanded air travel agreement signed on Tuesday. Mexicans flying to Canada, however, still need to apply and secure visas.

Signed before the presence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City, the updated bilateral air transport agreement adds more direct flights between Canadian and Mexican cities for both passengers and cargo. It likewise allows flexibility on pricing rates.

Air Canada, the country's flag carrier, lauded the development.

"The agreement also accords with Air Canada's desire for liberalized air agreements with large and important markets to expand air services and access in order to provide greater choice, convenience and travel opportunities for all Canadians, whether for business or leisure," Derek Vanstone, vice president of corporate strategy, industry and government affairs at Air Canada, said in a statement.

"Mexico is an important market for Air Canada and this expanded agreement will further strengthen air linkages between Canada and our NAFTA partner.... We encourage the federal government to take the next step to build travel and tourism between Canada and Mexico and relax visa requirements for Mexican citizens visiting Canada in order that we can derive the full benefit of this agreement," he added.

Expanded as it may be, Mr Harper, however, was quick to clarify Canada's visa requirements for Mexicans still won't be lifted, noting security concerns remain top priority.

"The criteria are absolutely clear and under the current circumstances we should have a visa with Mexico," Mr Harper told reporters present during the signing.

"However ... we remain always ready to discuss those criteria, what Mexico could do to address some of those issues and also what possibilities exist between us to facilitate legitimate travel because that's what we do want to do," he added.

Canada already had an air travel agreement in place with Mexico a long time ago. But in 2009, Canada instituted the visa requirement to cut the number of questionable asylum claims from Mexico. Since then, the number of questionable asylum claims from Mexico has dropped by 85 per cent, the government claimed.

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