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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

New direct Air Canada flight to Cozumel raises questions

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
More flights are slated for Cozumel, but can Mexico’s premiere island destination handle all the attention? Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

A new weekly direct flight from Montreal to Cozumel has been announced to begin on Aug. 9. 

Though flights from elsewhere in Mexico and the United States have been landing on the Caribbean island, this new flight operated by Air Canada is a significant milestone. 

There have even been rumors on social media of a direct flight from Italy, though plans for this route have not been officially acknowledged. 

But can Cozumel’s relatively small airport handle it?

The Cozumel airport currently has eight arrival and departure gates and two landing strips, each about two miles long and capable of accommodating aircraft as large as the Boeing 767.

But it is unlikely that arrivals by air will soon be on par with the island’s massive cruise ship traffic, which has now surpassed pre-2020 levels. 

Though tourism is the main source of income for the island, locals are starting to fight back against plans to further expand cruise ship operations, citing environmental and social concerns

Protestors in Cozumel come out against a planned fourth dock citing social and environmental concerns. Photo: Courtesy

Cozumel’s airport is also home to an airforce base which during World War II was home to the “Aztec Eagles,” who saw action in the Pacific theater. 

A decommissioned Aztec Eagle aircraft on display in Cozumel, Quintana Roo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Earlier: Cozumel shoots for the stars with new astronomical tourism push

Cozumel is Mexico’s oldest tourism destination. 

Even before Playa del Carmen had no more than a handful of hotels, Cozumel was already thriving with large numbers of domestic and international tourists looking to snorkel along its coral reefs.

Cozumel’s tourism industry even predates that of Cancún, which was built from scratch in the 1970s.  

Readers who spent time in Mexico during the 1980s and ‘90s may well recall the constant television ads with the “Isla Cozumel, los Colores del Caribe” jingle. 

These days Cozumel’s main tourist area is overrun with tacky shops, fairly poor restaurants, and folks doing their best to sell you a poncho. But the island still remains charming a little further afield

The far side of Cozumel is a place to encounter nature, not souvenir shops. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Aside from beaches, the island has several interesting archaeological sites, as well as some fairly peculiar attractions. 

Rasta’s in Cozumel has CBD-infused mojitos. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine