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Empty planes head to Mexico

Airlines are flying some nearly empty planes from the United States to Mexico, a strong indication that swine flu concerns are keeping travelers at home. Continental Airlines, American Airlines and US Airways offer the most services to Mexico from the US and they are all seeing big falls in demand.Mexican airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SA de CV said passenger traffic has declined since the outbreak of swine flu. Asur, which operates Cancun Airport and eight others in southeast Mexico, didn’t release specific figures and said it was too soon to know what the financial impact on the company would be.

Travel agents and tour operators have cancelled flights and cruises to Mexico as the swine flu spreads through borders, having already reached nine countries on four continents, and the risk of a pandemic is imminent.

Tour operators including TUI (Thomson, First Choice) and Thomas Cook have cancelled all UK flights to Cancun until at least 8 May. Virgin has cancelled package holidays to Mexico until 5 May, and tour operator Kuoni until 3 May.

Meanwhile, a number of cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Fred Olsen, Holland America and Princess, said their ships will not be stopping at Mexican ports until at least 4 May and as far ahead as 14 June.