McALLEN — A Peruvian-born, British airline executive temporarily moved to Mexico City recently to boost a foreign fleet, and McAllen is part of his plan.

McALLEN — A Peruvian-born, British airline executive temporarily moved to Mexico City recently to boost a foreign fleet, and McAllen is part of his plan.

Avianca, the national airline of Colombia and part of the Star Alliance Network, recently purchased a 49 percent stake in Aeromar, a Mexican airline. Aeromar’s flight network is strictly domestic, but for one international route linking Mexico City and McAllen.

The Aeromar direct flight to the Mexican capital has been in operation for nearly five years, but Aeromar didn’t start seriously marketing the route until two years ago. Ian Gillespie, an Avianca executive with 48 years experience in the airline business, lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but is stationed in Mexico City for the time being because of his new mission — integrating Aeromar into the Avianca flight network.

As far as McAllen goes, Aeromar is making a push, first targeting the holiday season. Aeromar is offering daily flights between McAllen and Mexico City for $168 one way and a free checked bag. The offer is already available for flights departing between Dec. 16 and Jan. 9, 2018. The daily flight departing McAllen during this stretch will be at 3:40 p.m. with the return flight departing Mexico City at 12:30 p.m.

Flights on Aeromar also count toward United Airlines Mileage Plus program, which has been the case in the past, but Aeromar is now actively promoting their United partnership. Gillespie plans to explore a possible code sharing opportunity with United.

Another offer Aeromar is making is a pass program, called Pase Ejecutivo. Consumers can buy the passes in bulk. There are three options: 20-, 50- or 100-pass packages. Each pass is a one-way ticket. A purchase of 20 passes costs $131 for each; 50 passes is $121 each; 100 passes is $111 each. If you buy one of the pass packages, you are not required to be the one who uses them. You can use as few or as many of them as you like.

“If you want to use one and sell 19 to your aunts, uncles, family, friends, you can,” Gillespie said.

The pass packages are already on sale. The passes expire three months after the purchase date.

Aeromar currently has flights five days per week between McAllen and Mexico City. The plane, depending on volume and demand, either seats 48 passengers or 78 passengers. Liz Suarez, McAllen director of aviation, said Aeromar in 2016 saw its highest load factors since it launched the McAllen route. Suarez said projections for 2017 look even better.

Avianca plans to pour $100 million into Aeromar to expand the fleet and add more routes. While the McAllen airport continues to have just one international destination, Gillespie and Suarez said demand and market feasibility will determine potentially adding another route.

One of the issues affecting the viability of more flights to Mexico has been the competition from the airport in Reynosa, a five-minute drive from the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. With the devalued peso and lack of international flight fees, the McAllen flights cannot compete on fares.

However, as violence has increased in Reynosa and the economy has suffered there, airlines have been dropping service to the city. Volaris, a popular low-cost Mexican airline, dropped the city from its network earlier this year and just yesterday, Interjet, another low-cost carrier, pulled out. Interjet’s last Reynosa to Mexico City flight was Oct. 31, according to a news release.

Aeromexico still serves Reynosa through its subsidiary, Aeromexico Connect, operated by Aerolitoral with regional jets.

Gillespie is optimistic about the McAllen-Mexico City route, and future possibilities. He was also impressed with McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley, especially “fantastic” meals at Santa Fe Steakhouse and House Wine & Bistro.

The promotions are a start, and if they go well, could happen again based on the season. And upon learning about the Valley’s Winter Texan community, he became even more intrigued.

“Maybe one day we’ll have an Avianca Mexico,” Gillespie said. “Who knows. That remains to be seen.”