Welcome back British Airways! On November3, and after an absence of eight years, the UK airline resumed direct flights to Cancún from Gatwick, London’s second airport. It will be operating a twice-weekly service to the Mexican Caribbean during the winter and spring and plans to add a third flight next summer.  One of the world’s most popular airlines, British Airways also flies to Mexico City and through its alliances with American Airlines and Iberia now serves 400 destinations all over the globe.

The 200 passengers checking in at Gatwick for the inaugural Cancún flight were serenaded on their way by a mariachi band and were welcomed by Quintana Roo State Governor Felix González Canto and tourist industry representatives on arrival in Cancún. Richard Tams, head of UK & Ireland Sales & Marketing for British Airways said: “We’re delighted to be the only UK scheduled airline offering direct flights to Cancún. With sweeping beaches, innovative parks, relaxing spas, sports on land and sea, fabulous hotels and unique opportunities to explore the ancient Mayan culture, the Yucatán peninsula truly offers something for everyone.”

And there’s more Cancún airline news for would-be visitors, including Royal Resorts members planning their annual vacation. A number of Mexican and US carriers have boosted flights to Cancún, and Mexico City and have added other major cities to their route networks in the wake of the closure of Mexicana and amidst continuing uncertainty about the airline’s future. In the case of Cancún, Frontier Airlines will soon be flying from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Virgin America is expanding its route network to include the Mexican Caribbean, with two new services to Cancún from San Francisco (three flights a week) and Los Angeles (five flights a week) respectively, starting in early 2011. Delta has announced new services from San Antonio, Austin, Columbus and Tampa starting February 19, 2011 and American Airlines will add a daily flight from Miami on February 10.

Continental and United Airlines have also expanded their flight networks. Starting February 19, Continental is set to offer a Saturday service to Cancún from Austin, San Antonio and Raleigh-Durham. The airline currently operates 76 flights to Cancún during the week from Houston, Newark and Cleveland, while its partner United has 31 flights from Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. Continental already flies to 30 cities in Mexico, more than any other US airline.

Low-cost Mexican carrier Volaris has teamed up with Southwest Airlines in a code-sharing agreement that will improve connections with 19 cities in the US.

In the charter airline sector, Funjet recently signed an agreement with Aeromexico to offer charter flights five times a week from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport from December 26 to January 23, a daily flight from January 24 to April 13 and six days a week from April 14 to May 2. A similar alliance with Frontier Airlines will also see a weekly Funjet flight from Chicago Midway.

Sources:  Mexican Tourist Board, British Airways, Travel Weekly