This has to be one of the strangest attempts to revive an airline brand that I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot, because reviving an airline brand is rarely a successful endeavor).
Mexico’s government is starting a new airline
In the coming months, Mexico’s government plans to launch an airline, which will be run by a military general. This week, the Mexican government spent $48 million to purchase the brand of Mexicana de Aviacion, which used to be Mexico’s major national carrier. The airline liquidated in 2010, after being privatized in 2005.
Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador is reviving this airline with the stated goal of offering low-cost options to travelers, and creating more jobs for Mexicans. That purchase price is going primarily to nearly 7,500 former Mexicana employees, who had claims against the airline for lost wages when it went out of business. The purchase of Mexicana also includes three buildings and a flight simulator.
So, what should we expect from the “new” Mexicana?
- Mexicana will be based at Felipe Angeles International Airport (NLU), which is Mexico City’s new second airport, as it hasn’t gained as much traction as hoped with airlines; interestingly the airport is also run by the military
- The airline plans to begin selling tickets in September 2023, and launch flights by December 2023
- The airline will begin service with 10 leased Boeing 737-800s, which will be delivered in September and October 2023
- The Boeing 737s will be in an all-economy configuration, each featuring 180 seats
- The airline is promising “quality service at an affordable cost,” with tickets 18-20% cheaper than competitors
- The airline will operate exclusively domestically, and initially intends to serve 20 destinations, including Cancun, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Mérida, Los Cabos, Tijuana, Mazatlán, León, Hermosillo, Ciudad Juárez, Puerto Vallarta, and Monterrey
- The government will give the airline ~$235 million in funding to launch operations
- The Mexicana aircraft will feature the traditional Mexicana logo on the tail, but will otherwise be white and green, with red engines
Does this airline startup make any sense?
The Mexican government had been talking about launching this airline for some time, but I figured they wouldn’t actually follow through on this. It looks like it’s really happening, though, and it makes little sense to me.
The thing is, I can understand when a country without much air service decides to launch an airline, even if it’s not likely to make money. After all, air connectivity is important. However, in this case the government is simply launching a domestic airline that will compete with existing private companies, of which there are a decent number in Mexico.
It’s not often you see a government launch an airline in a country that has plenty of good air service. What’s the real motivation here? Is this just about making former Mexicana employees whole? Is this about bringing service to Mexico City’s new airport, which otherwise hasn’t performed as well as hoped?
In terms of maximizing the odds of the airline being profitable, do they really think a military general is the right person to run the airline? Like, I don’t want to be overly critical, but I’m not terribly impressed by the attention to detail at the press conference — the airline will exclusively fly 737-800s, yet the model aircraft is of a 737-300, plus the graphic contains a picture of a plane with four engines.
You know, people often ask me how I don’t get bored writing about airlines 365 days per year, for 15+ years running. Well, this is why. There’s never a dull moment in the airline industry. I mean, how can you not be fascinated by Mexico’s government launching an airline run by a military general, and being curious about how this unfolds?
Mexicana will be returning to the skies in late 2023, as the airline brand is being revived after being purchased by the government. Mexico has decided to bring back its former national airline, and it will initially fly domestically from Felipe Angeles Airport to destinations across Mexico.
What do you make of Mexicana being revived? What do you think the odds are the airline succeeds?