Cancun and Cozumel airports suffer tourist collapse due to COVID-19

At the start of the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus, Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (Asur) reported in March a 35.8 percent drop in passenger traffic at the nine airports it administers in Mexico, which contributed to the 8.1 percent drop in the first quarter.

Moving to or from Cancun Airport: Public transportation services, authorized taxis, private transfer companies and car rentals offered at Cancun Airport (CUN). Photo: Notimex
Moving to or from Cancun Airport: Public transportation services, authorized taxis, private transfer companies and car rentals offered at Cancun Airport (CUN). Photo: Notimex

The air terminal where passenger traffic fell the most was Cozumel, with 37.9 percent in March and 6.3 percent in the first quarter. In the case of Cancun, the corresponding percentages were 26.4 and 5.1 percent down, respectively.

The only airport terminal that reported positive numbers in March was Tapachula, Chiapas, which along with Oaxaca and Merida maintained growth in the first quarter.

In Cancun, global traffic, both foreign and domestic passengers, plummeted 38.6 percent, from 2'446,227 to 1'502,258; in the accumulated annual decrease from 6'659,404 to 5'953,638, for a drop of 10.6 percent.

In the case of Cozumel, during March the fall was 39.4 percent, from 77,225 to 46,828, while in the quarter it fell 12.1 percent, from 188,647 to 165,889.

As expected, in Cancun the largest drop (43.1 percent) was reported in international traffic, which went from 1'783,841 in March 2019 to 1'014,810 this year, while the number of domestic passengers in the third month of the year fell 26.4 percent, from 662,386 passengers in 2019 to 487,448 in the same period this year, so the accumulated of the first quarter fell from 1'899,183 to 1'802,860.

In the case of Cozumel, international passenger traffic last March fell 39.8 percent compared to the same month in 2019, from 62,087 to 37,348, while the accumulated for the first quarter fell 13.6 percent, from 148,659 to 128,428, while domestic fell 37.4 percent in the month, from 15,138 in 2019 to 9,480 this year and the quarterly decreased 6.3 percent, from 39,988 to 37,461.

Flight cancellations, mainly from the United States and Europe, are expected to cause a decline in airport activity this month, despite the fact that the authorities have not given orders to suspend it.

How to get to or from Cancun Airport

Information about the public and private transportation from or to the airport of Cancun (CUN), Mexico. Taxi services and transfers.

The Cancun airport, being the air terminal of the Riviera Maya, is connected not only with the city of Cancun and its hotel zone, but also with the different tourist points of the Caribbean coast and other tourist spots. Buses, private transportation and taxis provide the transfer service.

Which bus connects the airport with the city and zone?

ADO (Tel +52 1 800 369 4652) connects the airport with the terminals in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Belize, Chiquilá, Carrillo Puerto, Mahahuai, Plaza Terra Viva, Puerto Morelos, Mérida and Valladolid.

Cancun: Cars depart every 30 minutes and travel time is 30 minutes to the city terminal ($94.00).

Playa del Carmen: The bus leaves every 30-45 min. and the travel time is 1 hour ($208.00).

Tulum: The bus leaves every 45 min. and the travel time is 2 hours ($276.00).

Fares are expressed in Mexican pesos.

The company has counters in the arrival rooms. For more information on destinations, fares and available schedules, visit

What door-to-door services does the airport have?

Cancun Shared Shuttle (Tel +52 998 980 0882 / 1 855 506 3344) offers a shared shuttle service from the airport to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, operating between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. Vehicles depart when completed.

FerAltar (Tel +52 998 898 4977 / 4979) operates door-to-door minibuses to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Monday to Saturday between 8:00 am and 0:00 am.

Where are the official airport taxis?

The airport has an official taxi company, Cancun Taxi (Tel +52 998 287 0336 / 1 800 828 0679), with vehicles available outside the exits of terminals 2 and 3. Cars can be booked online or paid for at the counters located in the arrivals halls. The journey to the city centre takes about 25 minutes.

Transportation Tips

Although there are issues that seem more than obvious, it is always advisable to take into account when moving to or from the airport, and especially if we go by public transport.

To the airport

It's a good idea to get out a little earlier than is commonly suggested. If you choose a taxi or a private car service, always take into account peak transit times, demonstrations, strikes or events that may delay more or less the journey to the airport from the place where you are. It is always good to be informed about what is happening where you are.

If you are using a shared transfer service, please have a phone number available in case of a delay by the company. In these cases, you will usually have a scheduled pick-up time.

If you use public transport (bus, train) have the timetables at hand (weekends and holidays are usually less frequent), if you have to make a transfer and also how to board (if you need a card or boarding pass or pay the driver or motorist on the spot). These are details that seem obvious, but it is advisable to know so as not to have surprises and suffer a delay that could bring about complications.

If you rent a car to get to the airport, check where to leave the vehicle. In some airports, there is a parking lot exclusively for rental cars.

From the airport

It's a little less stressful here since you don't have the pressure to miss your flight. In the worst case, you will arrive later to the place where you are going to stay or to the meeting point where you are trying to arrive. Once you get off the plane, you pick up your suitcase and complete the required arrival formalities. Then you must look for the public transportation directions or consult with the airport staff.

It is very useful to check the bus schedule in advance in case you arrive late at night. Not all buses run 24 hours a day. The same applies to taxis. If you have hired a private car service, have the mobile application available to contact the driver. Some transportation services have a person waiting for you, identified by a sign.

If you rent a car to go from the airport to your final destination, for more peace of mind it is recommended to book it in advance. Rental counters are usually available in the arrivals hall.

After the cancellation of the Texcoco airport and the postponement of the works in Santa Lucia, the Cancun airport could become the number one in the country in passenger mobilization, since it is the one that receives the most international passengers.