The Mexican Aviation Industry After 2020By Sofía Hanna | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 19:12
During 2020, airlines like Interjet, Grupo Aeroméxico, Volaris and VivaAerobus suffered losses of passengers and fleets, while trying to survive the pandemic. In an MBN article by Carlos Robles, Vice President of FEMIA, he mentions that the aerospace supply chain has been greatly disrupted and it will take a long time for operations to be restored, mainly due to forced shutdowns. In this scenario, Robles argues that refocusing on aerospace industries is the best way to reshape 2021.
Challenges for the coming year include logistics, nearshoring and reshoring, but there are also opportunities in the coming two years as logistics becomes less complex. Said opportunities and challenges are arriving given all of the things that happened throughout 2020.
Grupo Aeroméxico was one of the airlines that lost a lot during the pandemic, going from having 131 aircraft in 4Q19 to 106 in 2020. It also retired six Boeing 737-700, nine B737-800 and nine Embraer 170 and it is still expected to further reduce its fleet during the first half of 2020, according to A21. Interjet, meanwhile, went from having 88 aircraft at the beginning of 2020 – 66 Airbus units and 22 Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) – to being fully grounded. Most Airbus aircraft have been returned to lessors while others already have new operators.
Volaris and VivaAerobus, on the other hand, have reported relatively good news, according to MBN. VivaAerobus increased its fleet from 36 to 43 aircraft. In addition, the airline inaugurated new commercial routes going from Mexico City to Los Mochis and Durango and also to Chicago O’Hare Airport and Ciudad Obregon. Volaris went from 82 aircraft in 2019 to 86 in 2020. The company has been braving the pandemic and in January 2021, it already operated at 97 percent capacity compared to the same month in 2020, according to MBN.
The latter two airlines are not without hurdles, however. They are also part of a collective debt of MX$226 million (US$11.2 million) for rights of airspace use of Mexican airspace that goes back to 2019. Given the continuous sanitary restrictions and the fear of moving from one place to another, airlines are still not operating at the rate they used to, making this debt grow, as mentioned in a previous MBN article.