Mexican President Leaves Open Possibility Of New Mexican Airline

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president, has said that there’s a possibility of launching a new airline. It would be operated by former employees of the ceased carrier, Mexicana de Aviación. Let’s investigate further.

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Mexico could relaunch Mexicana de Aviación? Photo: Getty Images

The rebirth of Mexicana?

Mexicana de Aviación ceased its operations in August 2010. At that time, it was the oldest Mexican airline, and one of the oldest worldwide. For almost a decade, the former employees of the airline have been looking for justice. You can see them for yourselves if you land at Terminal 1 of Mexico City International Airport (AICM). They have a coffee shop where the check-in of the airline was made.

The former employees of the airline have tried to get justice from three presidents now. Neither of the first two actually did anything. And, although Lopez Obrador hasn’t done anything concrete yet, he has given them hope of a rebirth of the airline.

He said,

“We are helping the employees to have options, like to have a new airline. We can’t overrule the possibility of a cooperative, that they may have the authorizations (to do it).”

But, is it possible?

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Mexicana ceased operations in 2010. Photo: Getty Images

Could a new airline operate in Mexico?

Currently, there are four major airlines in Mexico: Aeroméxico, Volaris, Interjet, and Viva Aerobus. Aeromexico and Interjet faced trouble in 2019, due to the MAX crisis for the former, and due to a number of economic issues for the latter. Meanwhile, Volaris and Viva Aerobus soared high last year with great passenger growth and great profits.

There are a few extra airlines operating domestic flights in Mexico, like Aeromar (with its ATR fleet), Magnicharters, Calafia Airlines, and others. But these are small players with very minor roles in the Mexican market.

So, the way I see it, there are three ways a new Mexicana de Aviación could fly again. And none of them would have an easy road ahead.

Scenario 1: a small fleet and no possibility to grow in Mexico City

A new Mexicana de Aviación could start with a small fleet. It would be a totally new airline, except it would benefit from the existence of the Mexicana brand. Something similar is happening in the USA with the launch of the new Eastern Airlines and in Iceland with WOW Air 2.0.

This new Mexicana would have to start from scratch, with no possible way to build a route map from Mexico City. At least, not now. Currently, the AICM is saturated and will not allocate any more slots in 2020. The Mexican Government is building a new airport in a military base which, according to them, would operate simultaneously as the AICM and Toluca International Airport. It is due to open in 2022.

So, if the Mexican Government indeed launches this new airport, a new Mexicana could grow there, unrivaled. Why unrivaled? Because, as of now, not many airlines have shown interest in operating in this new airport, known as Santa Lucia International Airport.

Mexico City International Airport is saturated. Photo: Daniel Martínez Garbuno

Scenario 2: Government takes Interjet

Simple Flying reader Jay M said this. We know Interjet is in big debt and that the Mexican Government has stated that it has an obligation to help Mexican companies. So, what if the Government saves Interjet and relaunches it as Mexicana?

Above all, it would be massively controversial, I can tell you that. Aeromexico and other carriers would fight to stop this with arguments similar to those used with the Emirates case.

The benefit of this scenario is that the slots at the AICM are there. Actually, some of Interjet’s current slots previously belonged to Mexicana de Aviación. There’s also a new fleet of Airbus aircraft, although the Government would have to do something with the Sukhoi fleet, which is currently a headache for Interjet.

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Could Interjet be linked to a new Mexicana? Photo: Getty Images

Scenario 3: A foreign airline invests in Interjet and relaunches it

Ok, I’m thinking of Air Italy. When Qatar Airways invested in Meridiana, it seemed like a good plan due to the uncertainty of Alitalia. Qatar acquired 49% of Meridiana and helped its relaunch as a new carrier, Air Italy.

Now, some link Interjet with Emirates, Qatar Airways and even American Airlines. What if any of these carriers bought a 49% stake of Interjet with the idea of relaunching it as Mexicana de Aviación? It didn’t work out for Air Italy, but could it work in Mexico?

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ in this story. What do you think? Would it be wise to relaunch Mexicana de Aviación? Let us know in the comments.