Mexican discount airlines are using rock-bottom fares to cater to legal and illegal migrants heading for the USA.
The airlines — known among fliers as Aeromigrante, or "Migrant Air" — take passengers from central or southern Mexico to cities along the northern border such as Tijuana and Mexicali. From there, customers make their way across the U.S. border.
The flights are part of a booming services industry for the estimated 13 million Mexican and Central American migrants who reside in the USA. Passengers who used to make bus trips of several days can arrive at the border well-rested for the often dangerous crossing.
Return flights south are often nearly empty of passengers, and some routes offer only one-way service. One of the airlines, Tijuana-based Avolar, estimates that 70% of its customers have the USA as their final destination.
"The most productive routes we have are cities where you have those passengers who are traveling with the idea of the American dream," said Luis Ceceña, a company spokesman.