Emirates is confident its flights to Mexico will go ahead. It follows a court ruling in Mexico blocking the airline’s impending Mexican flights, saying it did meet legal requirements. That court decision was a win for local carrier AeroMexico but has raised eyebrows within the Mexican Government. As for Emirates, it is appealing the decision and is confident it is on solid legal ground. The airline also has the Mexican Government behind it.
The court’s surprise decision was reported last week in Simple Flying. Without rehashing old news, Emirates has long wanted and tried to fly into Mexico City. The high altitude of the airport means direct flights from Dubai are not possible. Emirates wants to operate the Mexico City flight as a fifth freedom flight from Barcelona. And that’s what got AeroMexico’s back up.
AeroMexico operates seasonal flights between Mexico City and Barcelona and currently has a monopoly on that route. Emirates’ impending daily Boeing 777-200LR with all the Emirates bells and whistles presented a serious competitive threat to AeroMexico.
A hollow victory for AeroMexico
Last week’s surprise court decision may have caught people on the hop. But it might also prove a hollow victory for AeroMexico. The UAE Government signed a bilateral air services agreement with the Mexican Government that gives Emirates the right to fly into Mexico City via Barcelona. That air services agreement was the end result of extensive and long-running discussions between Emirates and Mexico.
To that end, Emirates remains confident its Mexico City flights will start operating in December 2019. An Emirates spokesperson has told Simple Flying;
“We firmly believe that the MOU is valid and the ruling of the court will be the subject of an appeal by the Government of Mexico. Pending the outcome of this appeal all our rights remain valid and in force.”
Javier Jiménez Espriú, head of Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) has been quoted in Arabian Business as saying;
“… the route was authorised a long time ago in the past administration and raised in the bilateral agreement … In principle yes [we will authorise it], legally there is no impediment.”
The planned daily Emirates flights also enjoy the backing of the Mexican Government and Mexico’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The Director-General of the CAA has said;
“Emirates’ arrival will bring a significant contribution to our international connectivity network by adding up daily services to Dubai and beyond.”
For its part, the Association of Mexican Pilots is firmly in the AeroMexico camp. Its spokesperson has been quoted in Paddle Your Own Canoe as saying;
“Emirates intends to take advantage of a market that does not belong to it, violating national sovereignty and opening the door for other airlines to do the same by invading the Mexican market and harming national airlines.”
Emirates is pushing ahead
But with a bilateral air services agreement allowing the Emirates flights and with the backing of the Mexican Government and its various agencies, Emirates appears confident it will win an appeal against last week’s court decision.
When it comes to strategy and tactics, Emirates has plenty of critics. Many of those critics raise valid points. But AeroMexico’s (and the Mexican Pilots Association) views are fundamentally anti-competitive and protectionist. AeroMexico may not be a big as Emirates but it has inbuilt home market advantages and a solid customer base in Mexico that Emirates lacks. There’s an argument that competition will make AeroMexico a better airline.
In the meantime, Emirates has 10 days to appeal last week’s court decision.