Mexican Aerospace Industry Prepares to ReopenBy Alicia Arizpe | Fri, 05/15/2020 - 12:09
Mexico’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 led to production stops of all non-essential business, altering production lines and hurting businesses small and large across many different industries. As the federal government allows the reopening of some sectors, including the aerospace industry, companies and industry associations are developing plans that allow for the safe return of employees.
Through many years of hard work and investment, Mexico’s aerospace industry had managed to insert itself into key supply chains across the globe. The country produces a broad range of products for many different aircraft, from light switches to harnesses and engines. Mexico now ranks as the 14th aerospace exporter in the world with exports worth US$9.6 billion in 2019. The country is the sixth exporter of aerospace parts to the US and its more than 300 companies also send products to Canada, France and Germany.
While the sector had grown steadily for many years, the COVID-19 outbreak brought operations to a partial halt as the industry was not initially granted the essential status. This led to repeated calls both local and foreign to fully reopen the sector. The Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA) urged the federal government to reclassify the industry as essential due to its importance in the production of components for the Army, the National Guard and Civil Protection. The US Pentagon also asked Mexico’s government to reopen the industry due to the dependence of US aerospace and defense companies on Mexican suppliers.
These voices joined many others from difference sectors, leading to an announcement on Tuesday that the aerospace industry would be classified as essential, alongside the construction, mining and automotive industries, among others. This classification will allow aerospace companies to return to operations on June 1. However, bringing workers back will not be that easy as companies will have to develop measures that will ensure employee safety. Measures being considered include temperature checks, monitoring of individuals every time they enter or leave the plant, altering production lines and providing employees with personal protection equipment including goggles and face masks. Luis Aguirre, President of INDEX, explains that the sector “estimates that it will invest in average MX$25-30 million (US$1.04-1.25 million) per company or plant depending on the size of the plant and transport.”
FEMIA, alongside the aerospace clusters of Queretaro, Monterrey and Chihuahua, developed a comprehensive plan to ensure the safe return of employees. It includes a broad range of measures designed to protect workers from the moment they enter the plant. These measures highlight personal hygiene and regular sanitation of workspaces and embrace social-distancing policies. Also considered are protocols to receive visitors and suppliers. Through these measures, the sector expects a safe and efficient reactivation that allows the country to maintain its status as an aerospace powerhouse.