The Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet is facing new trouble with its employees, claiming that they have not received its wages in recent months. The employees are warning of a possible strike if things do not change. But, what else is going on with Interjet at the moment? Quite a lot. Let’s dig deeper.
Furloughs, wages, and cancellations
Last week, Interjet employees exploded against the company. They argued that the airline was delaying payments without any logical explanation. It led to a protest, on Saturday, at Mexico City’s International Airport.
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Some of the protest employees said that they have been furloughed but haven’t received a severance package. Others say that the airline was trying (in some cases successfully) to make them sign a resignation letter, which would allow Interjet not to pay a severance package. Another portion of the workers claimed that they hadn’t received their wages for up to three months.
Until now, Interjet has not publicly announced any layoffs within the company. It has tried to deal with the current crisis internally, without giving much information away. Nevertheless, it recently announced an investment worth US$150 million. It is not a lot of money for the airline industry, but for the employees is a sign that there is some cash available. They added that if there’s not a solution to their issues, they will strike.
Interjet employees are not the only people angry at the airline. On social media, the airline is overwhelmed with claims from passengers. According to the travelers, the carrier often cancels their flights, gives them a voucher but, when they try to redeem it, the coupon is worth only a fraction of the flight, meaning they have to pay more to get to their destination. And then, the cycle repeats.
Bye-bye to half the former Airbus fleet
Interjet’s problems could be traced to many questionable management choices. Some point out the purchase of its Sukhoi Superjet fleet. Others could argue that the airline drifted away from its low-cost origins. It got trapped between a legacy carrier (Aeromexico) and two real low-cost carriers (Volaris and Viva Aerobus) and could not compete.
Its issues peaked in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of months, Interjet lost its entire Airbus fleet, composed of 66 airplanes. It had to bring back its Sukhoi fleet, which was already phasing out. Nevertheless, Interjet remained optimistic, saying that the Airbus fleet was coming back. But is it?
We don’t expect to see the same Airbus fleet back ever again. Maybe Interjet will be able to sign new leasing contracts and get a few Airbuses in the future. But those planes won’t be the same it had before the pandemic.
So far, the leasing companies have given new registrations to 33 of the former Interjet planes. Most of those aircraft are grounded in airports in the US, like Tucson, Chino, and Lake City Gateway.
Could we see an Interjet-Aeromar merger?
At the beginning of August, Interjet signed a codeshare agreement with another Mexican airline, Aeromar. Both are small regional players with a very interesting fleet. Interjet has the Sukhoi, and Aeromar has 10 ATR airplanes.
In the meantime, a new airline has appeared in Mexico, or so it seems. A company called Zenith Aero was launched in March. On its website, it says that it will launch a new era of passenger and cargo operations. It also says that it will lease aircraft in the future. And what airplanes does it announce? It says it will rent ATR 72-500, ATR 72-200F, and Airbus A320 airplanes. This information led some people to believe that Zenith Aero is linked, in some way, to Interjet and Aeromar and that both carriers could merge. We’ve contacted Zenith Aero, and it denies this information and says it is an independent company.
Nevertheless, Interjet workers disagree. They say that the airline is furloughing them and saying they will be rehired by none other than Zenith Aero, according to Mexican site A21. Whether that is true or not, it remains to be seen. For now, Interjet continues with deep financial problems.
In September, the airline will operate to ten destinations, with some milk routes. For example, Interjet will link Mexico City and Tijuana, with stopovers in Hermosillo and Guadalajara or Chihuahua and Monterrey. With this strategy, Interjet is claiming to launch new routes like Guadalajara-Hermosillo.
Do you expect Interjet and Aeromar to merge? Let us know in the comments.