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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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López Obrador postpones inauguration of Mexico’s army-owned airline

An aviation expert said the new Mexicana airline has nothing it needs to operate — no planes, no crew, no gate agreements with airports.

MEXICO CITY (CN) — The Mexican military’s new airline is not going to take off on time. 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that the airline’s opening day — scheduled for Dec. 1 — would be pushed back to an undetermined day that same month. 

“It’s going to fly soon, very soon,” he told reporters at his daily morning press conference in Mexico City. 

The news came after López Obrador announced that he plans to fly to the Caribbean coast resort town of Tulum on Dec. 1 to inaugurate that city’s new airport, and a reporter asked if he would be flying the new army-owned airline Mexicana de Aviación. 

“No, because we’re fixing Mexicana,” he said. “I hope that in December we’ll begin flying with Mexicana.” 

He floated the possible date of Dec. 26, but said that the precise date is still to be determined.

“We don’t have anything to hide, sometimes we take care not to say exact dates because, just imagine if it doesn’t come off by that date. That’s why we watch out for ourselves, but everything we do has to do with time, politics is time, it’s managing time.”

The airline was created and put under military administration last May.

Despite campaign promises to curtail the militarization of his predecessors, López Obrador has greatly expanded the military’s roles and responsibilities during his time in office. The military now builds and operates airports, runs customs, and is also getting into hotels, museums, passenger trains and other tourism services

The army did not make anyone available for an interview, and a spokesperson said that “as for now, we do not have any information regarding” the reasons behind the postponement. 

The company is direly unprepared to begin operations in December, according to Mexican aviation experts. 

“They don’t have anything, no crews, no planes, no infrastructure, no agreements with the airports they want to fly to,” said María Larriva Sahd, aviation specialist and Mexico’s first female air traffic controller. “They haven’t made any advancements. They’re just announcing things, but they haven’t put the required procedures in place to create an airline.” 

From what she has gleaned from information leaked to her and other members of the aviation community by employees of Mexicana, the company owns one airplane bought from a regional airline that it intends to paint for use in the inaugural ceremony next month. But it lacks a fleet.

It could take months for Mexicana to get planes, as well, according to airport infrastructure specialist Fernando Gómez Suárez.

“Surely they’ll do an inauguration ceremony, but it’ll be with other planes,” said Gómez. 

The original purpose of the airline was to fill in gaps in underserved regional routes, but it appears that it will be competing with private airlines for some of the most popular routes in the country. 

“I wish they would begin operations in regional routes where the market is not being served, but it looks like they’re going to cover the most in-demand routes where the other Mexican airlines are competing,” he said. “What the country needs is better transportation throughout the territory.”

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Categories / International, Travel

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