Mexican carrier Interjet has had a solid 2019 and is looking to capitalize on its successes throughout 2020. In a media release today, the airline described how it plans to add more routes, more frequencies and more aircraft to its fleet over the course of the next 12 months.
Interjet’s 2020 expansion plans
The airline has revealed today that it intends to expand its US footprint, as a key market for the carrier. Other key international gateways will be boosted also, although the airline has not yet mentioned any specific new international services.
As well as this, passengers can look forward to more nonstop services, competitively priced fares and free checked baggage on some of its flights. Interjet also plans to upgrade existing aircraft, and to add new planes throughout 2020, including the Airbus A320 family jets.
CEO of Interjet Airlines, William Shaw, commented on the expansion, saying,
“The U.S. is now our largest and most important international market. Our international business grew 26 percent year-over-year and our overall passenger traffic increased by seven percent. Load factors were up, RPK’s (revenue passenger kilometers) and ASK’s (available seat kilometers) both increased dramatically. The strategic plan we put into place in late 2018 is working and the airline is running on all cylinders.”
Indeed it does seem that Interjet is on its way up. The airline announced a new route earlier this week between Monterey (MTY) and Los Angeles (LAX), effective immediately. The airline has a fleet of 71 aircraft, mainly from the A320 family, and has 28 A320neo still to be delivered from Airbus.
A great 2019 for Interjet
While many airlines succumbed to the curse of 2019, Interjet was one of the few that actually had a very good year. The Mexican airline increased passenger traffic by 10% over the course of the year, which broke down to a 5% increase in domestic traffic, and a healthy 27% increase in international.
In total, 15,250,000 passengers traveled on Interjet in 2019. The airline finished the year with an impressive 85.4% load factor, six points higher than that of 2018. Reportur notes that Interjet has already sold some three million tickets for travel up to the start of March.
The company issued a statement carried by Milenio about its plans for 2020, saying,
“This year, Interjet will continue with the growth of its fleet, with its strategy of opening new routes and strengthening frequencies, providing an excellent and high-value transportation service for its passengers.”
Interjet strikes a balance between low cost and no-frills, taking more of a Southwest Airlines approach to its services. It operates a non-oversold policy, which avoids passengers the inconvenience of being bumped. It also flies some of its US routes with exceptional legroom even in economy, and provides free snacks and drinks on onboard.
But is it winning in Mexico?
Despite Interjet’s positive spin on the outcomes of 2019, and its healthy numbers, is it really doing all that well in the local environment? Not really.
Over the course of 2019, the airline registered debts that were more than 800m pesos ($43m). There were also some issues with the accounts of owner Miguel Alemán Magnani, which never looks good for an airline. There is also some question over its fleet of Sukhoi Superjet 100s, of which it once had 22. Only five remain in service, but the airline is apparently still paying off the rest!
In terms of the four big airlines in Mexico, Volaris and Viva Aerobus actually grew faster than Interjet, registering growth of 21.2% and 20% respectively. The only airline that lost passengers was Aeromexico, who dropped 6.4% over the course of 2019.
Although Interjet is making all the right noises about its expansion, 2020 for them should really be a year of consolidation. The airline needs to drive down its debt and continue to reinforce its position on popular routes if it wants to end 2020 on a high note also.