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Military-Run Mexican Airline Takes Off

Flying under the reincarnated Mexicana brand, the new airline officially inaugurated revenue service on December 26.

A Mexicana 737-800 in Tijuana (Photo: Aquintero82, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Mexicana is back flying again for the first time in over a decade, albeit under new military-run management. Following some initial headwinds in receiving an Air Operator Certificate, Mexicana de Aviacion began service with a Boeing 737-800 that formerly belonged to the Mexican Air Force.

The revived airline’s first revenue flight took off from Mexico City’s Felipe Angeles International Airport (NLU) bound for the brand-new Tulum International Airport (TQO), according to the country’s government. Both airports are also operated by the Mexican military as the nation’s president – Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (or AMLO) – pushes to place some civilian infrastructure under military control.

Per Flightradar24 data, Mexicana’s inaugural flight diverted to Merida (MID) due to poor weather conditions in Tulum. In a Tweet, the airline confirmed that the flight continued to Tulum.

Expansion in 2024

The Mexican government has big plans for its new airline in 2024. According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the airline currently has three 737 aircraft and is wet-leasing two Embraer E145 jets from TAR Aerolineas. Mexicana will add up to 10 leased aircraft in 2024, Sandoval said in a press conference. More aircraft are slated to arrive early next year.

In addition, Sandoval confirmed that the company is in talks with Boeing for additional aircraft which would not arrive for at least another two years. Alongside TAR, Mexicana intends to operate to 15 domestic destinations in Mexico from Mexico City-NLU.

Mexicana’s route map as of Dec. 26, 2023. (Photo: Mexicana)

The reincarnated Mexicana joins a growing list of civilian aviation projects being assigned to the Mexican military. Last month, the country placed four more civilian airports under military control. 

“This airline will be managed by the Olmeca-Maya-Mexica company that will administer airports, trains, especially the Maya Train, and Mexicana de Aviacion, in addition to other complementary companies with hotels and ecological parks,” AMLO said at a press conference, per Bloomberg. The Olmeca-Maya-Mexica entity is owned by the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA).

After becoming privatized, the original Mexicana went belly up in 2010. The Mexican government purchased the airline’s brand assets for $48 million in August 2023.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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