Canadian airlines Sunwing Airlines and WestJet have canceled flights to the western Mexican city of Mazatlan after civil unrest in that city closed its airport.
The cancellations come after the Canadian government issued a travel warning for the region on January 6.
“Violence and security operations have been widespread in the State of Sinaloa, especially in Culiacan, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Guasave since the arrest of a cartel leader on January 5, 2023,” the Canadian government writes on its website.
“There are burning cars, exchanges of fire and threats to essential infrastructure, including airports. Culiacan and Mazatlan airports are closed and all flights are suspended at Los Mochis airport until further notice.”
Holiday specialist Sunwing said it was canceling its flights “out of an abundance of caution”. The carrier operates weekly flights each from Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Vancouver.
Calgary-based WestJet had scheduled one round-trip flight to Mazatlan, from Vancouver.
“We are closely monitoring the civil unrest in the State of Sinaloa and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our guests and have proactively canceled crews at Mazatlan International Airport today, January 6, 2023,” WestJet says.
The US State Department has a standing travel warning in place for the state of Sinaloa through at least October 2022.
“The U.S. Consulate Hermosillo received reports of gunfire, roadblocks, and fires throughout the cities of Culiacan, Los Mochis, and Guasave,” reads a Jan. 5 note on the State Department website. “The Governor of Sinaloa, Ruben Rocha, asked the public to shelter in place. US citizens throughout Sinaloa should remain vigilant for potential violence throughout the state.”
US carriers serving Culiacan and Mazatlan include American Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. All four airlines have implemented travel waivers that allow customers to cancel and rebook their tickets without penalty.
American, which operates twice-weekly service to Culiacan from Phoenix, and daily flights from Dallas and Phoenix to Mazatlan, as well as one weekly flight to Mazatlan from Los Angeles, says it has suspended its operations to Mazatlan and Culiacan until until the 7th of January. as a result of airport closures”.
“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation and make any additional changes to our operation as necessary,” says the Fort Worth-based carrier.
United says it has canceled its Jan. 7 flight to Mazatlan from Houston.
None of the other airlines immediately responded to requests for comment.
On January 5, an Aeromexico Embraer E190 was hit by stray gunfire while trying to take off from Culiacan International airport. No crew or passengers were injured, the airline said.