Reducing air travel to Mexico will harm the Latino community in Georgia

A recent tentative decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to terminate approval of a strategic partnership between Delta Air Lines and Aeroméxico could have lasting effects on Georgia’s economy, businesses, and consumers—and would have particularly negative and harmful implications for Latino communities.

Since 2017, the Joint Cooperation Agreement (JCA) between Delta and Aeroméxico has enabled the two airlines to expand air service between the United States and Mexico. In that time, the JCA has helped increase travel options and reduce costs for consumers, while also creating thousands of jobs and spurring economic growth in both countries.

Yet the DOT is slated to terminate approval of the JCA in response to the Mexican government’s violations of the U.S.-Mexico air services agreement. While the administration should work to resolve its policy differences with Mexico, failing to approve the renewal of the JCA – which is completely unrelated to this issue – would unfairly punish U.S. consumers, businesses, and the Latino community in Georgia.

As the chief executive of GALEO, an organization dedicated to the civic engagement of the Latino community throughout our state, I share a unique perspective on the issues that matter most to Georgia’s Latino population. The Peach State has one of the fastest growth rates of Latinos in the nation, with nearly one million people identifying as Latinos today. At GALEO, we are committed to ensuring concerns of the Latino community are heard by our local representatives as well as the federal government in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, this particular action by the DOT would cause widespread negative consequences and its ramifications would reverberate throughout our community and beyond.

Connectivity is paramount for Georgia’s growing Latino population. If the DOT does not renew its approval of the JCA, five critical routes between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Mexico will be at risk of being canceled. In 2023 alone, more than 600,000 Georgians benefited from these flights. Not only would their termination disrupt travel for consumers nationwide, but it would also reduce market competition, leading to higher airfares that could become unaffordable for many in our state. Eliminating Delta’s and Aeroméxico’s strategic partnership would increase the financial burden facing many first- and second-generation immigrant families who rely on affordable air travel to visit family and friends in Mexico. For low-income individuals and families, termination of the JCA could make seeing their loved ones cost prohibitive.

The broader economic implications of canceling the JCA would also directly impact the Latino population in our state. Routes made possible by the JCA are a key part of Georgia’s economic infrastructure. Mexico is our state’s second-largest trading partner, and in 2022, Georgia and Mexico’s trade surpassed $18 billion. Atlanta is home to many Fortune 500 companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, and UPS. These companies and many more are major contributors to our local economy, bringing thousands of jobs to our state and their employees depend on routes supported by the JCA to enhance their operations. Many of these jobs are ones that Latino families depend on.

It is clear the risks of terminating the JCA far outweigh any reward. Threatening U.S. jobs, increasing costs for consumers and businesses, undermining our economy, and isolating the Latino community is not sound policy. Officials at the DOT should reconsider this punitive decision and negotiate further with the Mexican government to find a solution to the air services agreement that is mutually beneficial. U.S. businesses and Latino communities cannot become collateral damage for a diplomatic goal.

Jerry Gonzalez is the founding and current Chief Executive Officer of the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund (GALEO), and the GALEO Impact Fund. GALEO, a statewide nonprofit and non-partisan organization, has a mission to increase civic participation by educating and empowering the Latino community and to develop Latino leaders through strategic leadership programs throughout the state of Georgia. 

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