The first half of every year tends to be a slower period for travel as, and now even more so…
Aeroméxico Restarts International Flights while Mexico’s International LCCs Further Reduce Services
Despite the declared “sanitary emergency” in Mexico, Mexico’s national carrier, Aeroméxico, is reopening some international services and increasing frequency to Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada and some Latin American countries this month and next. Aeroméxico is seeking to restart some of its routes after it suspended flights to a large majority of its international destinations from its hub in Mexico City last month.
On the other hand, Mexico’s second-largest carrier, Volaris, is considerably reducing the number of flights they are operating in May. Mexico’s third-largest carrier, Interjet, which has continued its suspension of all international flights, is following suit. Volaris, however, did indicate that they will be “flying many more routes” in June.
Despite the national capital and the rest of the country being shut down, the Mexico City-based airline confirmed that they will resume services this month and June. It will resume flights to Vancouver with two frequencies per week beginning on May 1. On May 2, the airline will restart services to Seoul with two frequencies per week and Madrid with one frequency per week. In mid-May, operations will resume to Guatemala City; San José, Costa Rica and Lima, Peru. Other flights during May that are scheduled include some to Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris and various other destinations.
The airline will resume more flights beginning June 1, including services to Montreal; Toronto; Havana; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Managua, Nicaragua; San Salvador, El Salvador; Barcelona, Spain; London; Bogotá, Colombia; Medellín, Colombia and Quito, Ecuador.
Many trans-border services to the United States resume June 1, as well, while in May, the airline will continue servicing Los Angeles and resume services to Houston and New York.
Some flights, however, will not start again until later, such as flights to Buenos Aires which will resume September 1.
Aeroméxico and its regional feeder, Aeroméxico Connect, also operate international flights from its secondary hubs at Monterrey International Airport and Guadalajara International Airport and will resume international trans-border flights from those airports on June 1.
Mexico’s Consejo de Salubridad General — the National Health Council — declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national “sanitary emergency” on March 30. Although Mexico made the declaration much later than other nations, its airlines still took action weeks before canceling services substantially.
Aeroméxico grounded at least half of its fleet due to reduced demand last month, in a similar response to other Latin American carriers as Colombia’s Avianca, which currently has less than 10 aircraft flying only in domestic airspace.
Although Mexico’s regional and international airports are still open and operating, authorities have ordered all hotels in Cancún and Mexico City to shut down temporarily, closing a total of more than 1,100 hotels across the country. Being highly reliant on the tourism industry — which includes hotels and resorts, restaurants, entertainment and retail — Mexico has lost massive amounts of revenue since authorities implemented strict social distancing measures closing large and small businesses across the country in April.
Although Aeroméxico is resuming some international services, Mexico’s second- and third-largest carriers, international low-cost carriers Interjet and Volaris, are further reducing services in May, cutting nearly 90% of their former networks. Volaris published its official list of active routes for May on April 30. According to the new schedule, the Mexican low-cost carrier will operate only a limited number of national domestic flights, while its trans-border flights will only operate from its second hub in Guadalajara, flying only to Chicago, Los Angeles and Oakland.
Its competitor, Interjet, has continued with its suspension of all international flights, which began at the end of March. Due to the closure of the airspace in South American countries such as Colombia and Peru, Interjet is taking a bigger hit than Volaris.
Though Volaris was in a good financial position before the pandemic with a cash balance representing 23% of its 2019 revenues, its local competitor, Interjet has not disclosed its financial results since the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019. Last week, Interjet was suspended from the IATA “for the reason for the non-payment of a clearance balance.” Adding to the matter, the Mexican government published a statement saying that the airline isn’t able to provide evidence that it is capable of committing to its financial and service-related obligations.
Interjet not only has grounded its fleet of Airbus jets due to the pandemic, with several of its planes being flown to the United States for storage, but also said it is now returning aircraft through contract renegotiations stating that they are “outside of the current market conditions.”
Since January, the Mexican low-cost carrier had reduced its fleet from 66 Airbus aircraft to only eight A320s and one A321neo. In mid-April, Mexican tax authorities sealed off and embargoed the Mexico City home and assets of Interjet’s owner, Miguel Alemán Valdés, for failing to pay the airline’s tax debt.
Although there is strong speculation that the airline may not survive the pandemic, Interjet has dispelled its impending demise as pure conjecture, stating it has enough assets to cover its current tax debt of $28.16 million. The airline says that it has made more than 186,577 refunds to passengers as of March 31 in the form of vouchers valid for a year. However, there is no indication when the airline will reclaim its portfolio of more than 50 routes in Mexico and abroad.
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