You are forgiven if you might have thought I recycled a headline from the mid 1980s, but Mexicana is planning a delayed relaunch and after its initial aircraft deal fell though, the carrier is eyeing a fleet of three initial aircraft including a Boeing 737-300.
Mexicana Plans Belated Launch With Aging 737-300 Aircraft
The Boeing 737-300 rolled off the Boeing assembly line for the first time in 1983. Over the next 20 years it served as a workhorse for carriers like Southwest, Lufthansa, and United. Most of these aircraft have been retired in the western world, but the rebirth of Mexicana in Mexico will also feature the rebirth of an aircraft that will be older than many of its passengers.
How did we reach this point?
Mexicana Makes Return As Military-Operated Airline
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador noticed two problems. First, the new Felipe Angeles International Airport (NLU) in Mexico City (30 miles north of CDMX to be precise) has not proved all that popular. Sure, the traffic to Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) can be intense and the airport is out of space, but it is right in town and easy to get to, even by Metro.
Think of it like Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) compared to Washington National (DCA). DCA is right in town and easy to reach, while IAD was built because DCA became too congested. When that happened, politicians placed a “perimeter rule” on DCA flights in an attempt to legislate business to the new airport in Northern Virginia.
Here, López Obrador seems to think a new airline is a better idea than a perimeter rule or something similar.
Second, in his mind, airfare was too high. It’s not that Mexico did not already have a robust domestic market of competitors. Rather, López Obrador reasoned that the flights were too expensive for most Mexicans.
Thus came the dream to restart Mexicana, which shuttered operations in 2010 due to insolvency. An ambitious plan to launch a robust domestic network was announced and tickets went on sale. The military would operate flights and ticket prices were promised to be “18-20%” lower than the competition.
Mexicana de Aviación vuelve a los aires e iniciará operaciones en diciembre de 2023 con una flota de 10 aviones Boeing 737-800 de nueva generación para 180 pasajeros y asientos de una sola clase, para brindar un servicio de calidad a un costo accesible con boletos entre 18% y 20%… pic.twitter.com/3SoH4gBz8O
— Gobierno de México (@GobiernoMX) August 10, 2023
#ConferenciaPresidente. Los 10 primeros aviones Boeing 737-800 de la nueva línea aérea Mexicana transpirarán hasta 180 pasajeros, el costo de los boletos será 20 por ciento menor y tendrá 20 rutas de vuelo, informa el general Luis Cresencio Sandoval. pic.twitter.com/uUKdBbeufc
— Jenaro Villamil (@jenarovillamil) August 10, 2023
But a deal to acquire 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft recently fell through, forcing the carrier to cancel flights and refund tickets it had sold for this month.
Now Transportation Minister Jorge Nuno said he is “unsure” which aircraft will be used, but the carrier still plans to start operations on December 26, 2023. Meanwhile, Mexican media is reporting that the carrier will launch with three leased aircraft, including:
- 2 Boeing 737-800
- 1 Boeing 737-300
However, the carrier cannot sell tickets without an air operator license, which it cannot obtain until it has officially at least one aircraft.
Mexicana lost out on its deal for 10 737-800 aircraft and now plans to use two 737-800 and a 737-300 instead, stating operations on Boxing Day. Forgive me for being skeptical.
Candidly, I find this whole “military operation” a farce. What sort of populism spends taxpayer money on projects that “address” a problem where there is not one in the first place. Oh wait…
I will say that I love the vintage livery that will be used, which I find one of the sharpest in the entire industry. Finally, you might enjoy reading my Mexicana trip report from 2009, one of the first trip reports on this blog.