Last week, we talked about how 2021 will be the year of Latin American start-up airlines. We said there were at least four carriers set to appear in the next few months. Now, we can add one more in Mexico. Its name will be VLU, a leisure-oriented airline operating out of Toluca International Airport, near Mexico City.
The origins of VLU?
Grupo TUM is a Mexican company focused on cargo transportation both on the ground and the air. It has a cargo airline called TUM AeroCarga.
This carrier has a fleet of seven aircraft, according to Planespotters.net. The fleet is composed of two Boeing 737 and five CRJ-100 series.
TUM AeroCarga started operations in 2016, and its fleet has an average age of 25.8 years. Now, the Mexican company is planning to create a new leisure airline. It will have its base in Toluca International Airport.
Most likely, Toluca’s Airport authorities will help launch this carrier because they are interested in having commercial operations out of their runway. As we’ll see further on, Toluca is a white elephant.
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The fleet and the destinations?
The expectation is that VLU will serve domestic routes to touristic destinations. VLU plans to operate from April 2021, according to Luis Federico Bertrand Rubio, general director of Toluca International Airport.
The new airline would start with 11 routes out of Toluca. It would connect Toluca with Tijuana, Culiacan, Merida, Villahermosa, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Cancun, Monterrey, and two more destinations to be announced, according to local media outlets like A21.
“These are routes that we didn’t have in a long time. It will help us to promote tourism,” Bertrand Rubio stated.
He also went to talk about VLU’s future fleet. According to Bertrand Rubio, VLU will operate with five CRJ 200 aircraft, with a capacity for 50 passengers.
Bombardier Aerospace built the CRJ 100 and 200 series between 1991 and 2006. Both have capacities for 50 passengers. The range for the CRJ 100 is 3,056 kilometers (1,650 NM) and for the -200 is 3,148 kilometers (1,700 NM).
VLU would have to offer a low-cost service to appeal to Mexican travelers. Aeromexico, Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and even ailing Interjet already fly to these cities. It is a mystery what kind of service VLU would have. But, according to us, it already has one disadvantage: Toluca International Airport.
About VLU’s hub
Toluca International Airport is a hub located an hour and a half away from Mexico City. It has worked as an alternative to Mexico City’s International Airport. But why do we say that Toluca International Airport is a white elephant?
In the last decade, Toluca’s Airport has been underserved. It almost doesn’t have commercial airlines operating. Private users, cargo airlines, and aviation schools are its main users.
It only has one international airline operating, the Venezuelan carrier Conviasa, that connects Toluca with Caracas.
We think there are two main reasons as to why Toluca hasn’t worked as an airport. The first is the height of the airport. It is located at 8,466 feet, which puts more pressure on the airplanes during the take-off. Additionally, even though it is near Mexico City, there is no real connectivity between both cities. The highway is often congested, and there is no reliable public transportation, meaning most people are not interested in flying out of Toluca.
Despite that, there was a time when Toluca seemed like a viable alternative to Mexico City’s airport. Before Mexicana’s bankruptcy, Mexico City’s airport was congested, and there were no slots available. Therefore, this situation left several low-cost airlines looking for ways to connect to the Mexican capital. Among these airlines were Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and Interjet. So, these three airlines flew out of Toluca to several destinations across Mexico.
Nevertheless, once Mexicana ceased operations in August 2010, the three low-cost carriers jumped out of Toluca and started flying from Mexico City. They have never looked back.
Would you like to fly with VLU? Let us know in the comments.