Grupo Aeroméxico is Mexico’s oldest active airline and one of the most known brands across Latin America. The Mexican flag carrier is also one of the founders of SkyTeam, alongside Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air. Nowadays, Aeromexico has a fleet of 122 aircraft, and despite being in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, it is looking to emerge successfully from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aeromexico’s story began on September 14, 1934. On that day, Julio Zínser flew a commercial flight onboard a Stinson SR and connected Mexico City and Acapulco. Nowadays, Aeromexico serves 42 domestic destinations and 39 international destinations in 21 countries.
In May 1934, the businessman Antonio Díaz Lombardo acquired a Stinson SR-5A, registration NC14163. He then picked Julio Zinser, a military pilot, to operate Aeromexico’s first commercial flight.
On September 14, 1934, Aeromexico had its first commercial flight with four onboard passengers and crew members. Aeromexico operated several flights to other domestic destinations like Tehuacan, Puebla, Ometepec, and Oaxaca in the next three months.
By that time, Mexico already had another domestic carrier. Mexicana de Aviación launched flights on July 12, 1921. Both Mexicana and Aeromexico served as the flag carriers in the country for many years. Even today, they remain as an icon among Mexican travelers (Mexicana ceased operations in 2010).
For the first two decades of its history, Aeromexico remained as a domestic operator under the name Aeronaves de México.
In 1941, Díaz Lombardo sold 25% of Aeromexico to Pan American World Airways. The US carrier allowed Aeromexico to keep on growing and eventually fly internationally.
In 1955 Aeromexico’s fleet was composed of 15 aircraft, including 12 DC-3, two DC-4, and one C-47 freighter. A couple of years later, Aeromexico launched its first international routes connecting Mexico City with New York and Los Angeles.
In 1959, the Mexican government nationalized Aeromexico. During the sixties, the company bought DC-8 aircraft and used two Comet IVs to establish connectivity with Europe.
By 1960, Aeromexico had a fleet of 22 aircraft and flew to 23 destinations. The Mexican carrier served destinations like Panama City, Caracas, Bogota, and Madrid. Finally, in 1971, Aeronaves de Mexico changed its name to Aeromexico.
The bankruptcy and disappearance
In 1988, Aeromexico ceased operations. Between April 15 and October 1 of that year, the airline disappeared. Due to that reason, some argue that Aeromexico is no longer Mexico’s oldest carrier – instead, it is the regional ATR-based carrier, Aeromar.
Aeromexico’s first crisis can be traced back to 1982. That year the Mexican peso devalued 470%. The country entered into economic turmoil, and Aeromexico, led by the Government, fell into a state of disarray. Aeromexico’s deadliest accident happened on August 31, 1986, near Los Angeles, California.
In 1988, Aeromexico’s employees started a strike, and the Government seized the moment and declared the carrier in bankruptcy.
Six months later, Aeromexico was relaunched. Nonetheless, Aeromexico once again fell into economic trouble in 1995, during yet another Mexican financial crisis. The government purchased Aeromexico and Mexicana.
While Aeromexico was under the Government watch, it founded SkyTeam along with Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air in June 2000.
The CEOs of the carriers met in New York and announced the formation of SkyTeam. It wasn’t the first global airline alliance; both oneworld and Star Alliance appeared first.
In 2003, Aeromexico began renewing its fleet. The carrier received its first Boeing 737-700 aircraft.
A few years later, in 2007, a group of private investors bought Aeromexico.
Chapter 11 and Aeromexico’s future
During the last decade, Aeromexico has had to compete with the rising low-cost carriers in the country. Despite having the biggest fleet in Mexico, Aeromexico is no longer Mexico’s leading domestic operator. Instead, Volaris has the largest market share.
The COVID-19 crisis hit Aeromexico hard and led the airline to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in the US.
Last month, Aeromexico filed its Reorganization Plan, moving closer to exiting the bankruptcy process. Despite the crisis, Aeromexico is looking to emerge stronger, focusing on international connectivity. Domestically, the airline is reducing its costs to compete better against the low-cost operators.
Currently, Aeromexico has a fleet of 122 aircraft. It has 18 Boeing 787, five B737-700, 36 B737-800, ten B737 MAX 8, six B737 MAX 9, and 47 Embraer E190.
Have you flown with Aeromexico? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.