Mexican carrier Interjet expects to have some Airbus aircraft back between July and August after it lost 60 out of the 66 it had in January. In the coming months, the low-cost airline will relaunch up to 12 routes that were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The carrier can’t operate some of these routes without its A320 family jets, so it needs to get some back.
Is this a touch-and-go for Interjet?
Interjet touched a low point in its operation between April and May. In those months, the number of passengers transported dropped by 99%. The carrier went from having a fleet of 88 aircraft (22 Sukhoi and 66 Airbus) to just 29. Of these 29, none of the Airbuses operated any commercial flights. Only three Sukhoi flew in the last two months.
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The Mexican airline reduced its operations to the bare minimum, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It stopped flying internationally and, in April, it had only six domestic routes out of Mexico City. In May and June, it extended its operations to 14 local routes.
At the same time, 11 leasing companies repossessed 60 out of 66 Airbus airplanes. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) suspended Interjet from its Clearing House with immediate effect due to a lack of payment. Additionally, the Government of Chicago in the US sued the low-cost carrier more than $2 million over unpaid fees.
It seems Interjet got to the lowest point in its history; it has two ways to go: bust or fly again. The carrier claims it is the second one.
Which routes are coming back?
In July, Interjet is launching back (or adding up frequencies) to seven domestic routes. It will fly back from Mexico City to Hermosillo, Cualiacán, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Torreón, Oaxaca, and Cancún.
The Caribbean destination of Cancún had two daily frequencies in the last couple of months. Before the pandemic, Interjet planned to operate almost hourly flights from Mexico City to Cancun, betting on the second most important route in Latin America (after Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro in Brazil). Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Oaxaca are the other three destinations that will see an increase in frequencies.
Internationally, Interjet will reopen its flights to Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. It is important to note that these three routes are in Texas, within reach of the Sukhoi Superjet fleet. The Sukhoi has a range of more than 3,000 km under normal circumstances. But Mexico City has an altitude of over 2,250 meters, which diminishes the range of airplanes.
This is why Mexico City, historically, has had a long haul route problem. This circumstance also hits the Sukhoi and, consequently, it has a smaller range. For example, it cannot fly directly from Mexico City to the northwest part of the country, to cities like Tijuana, near the border with California. For those routes, Interjet needs the Airbus fleet it has lost.
How many Airbuses will we see back?
At the beginning of the year, Interjet had 66 Airbus aircraft. Now, according to Planespotters.com, it has seven: six A320 and one A321neo. Sources at Interjet have confirmed that the A321neo is still in the country because it is unable to fly.
The six A320 are older airplanes and may not even return to commercial operations with Interjet. Additionally, some of the Airbuses that flew with Interjet at the beginning of the year already have new registrations, suggesting they will not be back in Mexico.
Finally, Interjet had an order for more new A321neo. While these airplanes are good to go, the leasing company ACG recently reassigned those deliveries, as reported by Air Finance Journal. So, they will not come to Mexico either.
Some sources within the company say Interjet will restart with a fleet of five Airbus aircraft. Then, it will ramp up its operations, and the goal is to get back to a fleet of near 40 Airbus planes. Will the airline be able to do it? We don’t think so. Not at the moment.
Interjet is set to become the fourth airline in Mexico, surpassed by Volaris, Aeromexico, and Viva Aerobus. It will lose some of its presence in the international market and will have to fight back the negative perspective it has by some of the flying public.
What do you think of Interjet’s situation? Let us know in the comments.