Two years after Mexicana: 11 international routes still vacant; AeroMexico slow to respond

Mexicana has no successor on 11 international routes! A notable route left vacant was that between the capitals of Mexico and Venezuela; AeroMexico only launched daily flights from its Mexico City hub to Caracas in October 2011.

When Mexico’s flag carrier Mexicana de Aviación ceased operations two years ago, it accounted for 27% of the country’s domestic and 17% of Mexican international traffic. Other airlines have been quick to fill the void in the domestic market. The rise of Interjet (+73% domestic seat capacity, August 2012 v August 2010), Volaris (+58%) and VivaAerobus (+42%) have been reported on by in the past, along with AeroMexico becoming the country’s biggest domestic carrier.

The Mexican market continues to grow overall, with passenger numbers increasing by 11.2% domestically and 7.3% internationally in the first six months of 2012, and is this year on track to beat the 2008 record of 85 million passengers. But what happened to the international legacy of Mexicana?

AeroMexico now biggest as United cuts

Mexico's top 10 international airlines By share of seat capacity (capacity change August 2012 vs August 2011)

Source: SRS Analyser for w/c 20 August 2012 and 15 August 2011. Note: Lighter green bars denote Mexican airlines.

Although AeroMexico now also ranks as Mexico’s biggest international airline, the US carrier United is a close runner-up, in spite of having cut its Mexican network drastically in the last year (although fellow US carrier Delta’s cuts have been even more dramatic). The fastest international growth since last August has come from the local low-cost carrier Interjet as well as Southwest-owned AirTran of the United States.

No successor on 11 routes

In July 2010, a month before Mexicana suspended operations, the airline operated a total of 59 international routes, competing against a range of domestic and foreign carriers. Of those, 17 disappeared from the airline’s schedule in August, just before the company went out of business, including all international services from Guanajuato, as well as significant cuts in Guadalajara (-60%), Monterrey (-42%) and San José del Cabo (-40%). Notably, out of 11 routes never to be taken up by other airline after Mexicana’s demise, seven were among the ones dropped by the carrier prior to suspension of operations.

Still vacant international ex-Mexicana routes
Origin Destination WF* WS*
Guanajuato (BJX) Oakland, CA (OAK) 2 240
Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) 2 240
San Jose, CA (SJC) 2 220
Cancun (CUN) Guatemala City (GUA) 7 350
Mexico City (MEX) London Gatwick (LGW) 4 624
Calgary (YYC) 5 600
Morelia (MLM) Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) 6 870
San Jose, CA (SJC) 2 270
Monterrey (MTY) New York JFK, NY (JFK) 3 360
Los Cabos (SJD) Sacramento, CA (SMF) 4 600
Zacatecas (ZCL) Oakland, CA (OAK) 2 240
Source: new route database, Innovata July 2010 to August 2012
*WF: Weekly Frequencies July 2010 *WS: Weekly Seats July 2010

AeroMexico sluggish to take over

In August 2010, AeroMexico was already stronger than Mexicana in the domestic market, but the two carriers also competed on as many as 17 international routes. Analysis of schedule data shows that AeroMexico reacted slowly to Mexicana’s demise in many markets, either by taking up vacant routes with significant delay, or by taking time in replacing Mexicana in markets were incumbent competition was present.

AeroMexico’s launches of ex-Mexicana international routes
Launched Origin Destination WF Competition (Launch date*, WF)
January 2011 Mexico City (MEX) Havana (HAV) 5 Cubana (5)
Interjet (July 2011, 5)
January 2011 Mexico City (MEX) Montreal (YUL) 7 Air Canada (November 2010, dropped June 2011, 3)
April 2011 Guadalajara (GDL) Fresno, CA (FAT) 6 Volaris (April 2011, 7)
July 2011 Guadalajara (GDL) Sacramento, CA (SMF) 7 Alaska Airlines (January 2011, 3)
July 2011 Mexico City (MEX) Guatemala City (GUA) 21 LACSA (5)
Interjet (July 2011, 7)
July 2011 Monterrey (MTY) Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) 4
October 2011 Mexico City (MEX) Caracas (CCS) 7
May 2012 Mexico City (MEX) San Salvador (SAL) 7 TACA (11)
Jun 2012 Cancun (CUN) Bogotá (BOG) 2 Copa Colombia (January 2011, 2)
Jul 2012 Cancun (CUN) New York JFK, NY (JFK) 7 JetBlue (14)
American Airlines (7)
Jul 2012 Cancun (CUN) San José (SJO) 5
Source: new route database, Innovata July 2010 to August 2012
*Launch date: if none provided, the route was launched prior to August 2010

AeroMexico did not decide to take up any of the Mexicana’s former international routes until January 2011, when the airline inaugurated services from Mexico City to both Havana (served exclusively by Cubana for four months) and Montreal (taken up by Air Canada in November 2010). In fact, AeroMexico’s most recently launched routes, from Cancún to New York JFK and to San José in Costa Rica that the airline began operating as recently as in July 2012, were previously served by Mexicana. The Costa Rican destination was left unserved since August 2010, while New York JFK was offered by JetBlue (14 weekly flights) and American Airlines (7). A notable route that was left vacant for well over a year is that between the capitals of Mexico and Venezuela, as AeroMexico only launched daily flights to Caracas from its Mexico City hub in October 2011.

Launched Dropped Origin Destination WF Competition (Launch date*, WF)
January 2011 April 2011 Mexico City (MEX) Denver, CO (DEN) 3 United (January 2011, 1)
July 2011 January 2012 Guadalajara (GDL) San Francisco, CA (SFO) 3 United (7)
July 2011 May 2012 Cancun (CUN) Miami, FL (MIA) 14 American Airlines (35)
October 2011 February 2012 Guadalajara (GDL) Las Vegas, NV (LAS) 2 Volaris (April 2011, 11)
December 2011 February 2012 Zacatecas (ZCL) Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) 2
March 2012 April 2012 Cancun (CUN) Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) 3 American Airlines (7)

United (4)

USA3000 (ended January 2012, 6)

Source: database, Innovata July 2010 to August 2012
*Launch date: if none provided, the route was launched prior to August 2010

In addition, AeroMexico launched further six international ex-Mexicana routes, but consequently decided to discontinue operations. Today, one of these routes remains vacant, four are operated by US carriers only, and on one route, high-frequency competition from the Mexican low-cost airline Volaris was too strong for AeroMexico’s low-frequency operation.

Other carriers move quickly

Services on a total of 23 international routes previously operated by Mexicana were launched by carriers other than AeroMexico. 16 of these routes were already operated by AeroMexico, resulting in increased competition for the SkyTeam airline.

The Mexican low-cost airlines Interjet and Volaris took up four and five of the international routes respectively, but it is foreign carriers that have been very active. Copa Colombia moved fast, connecting Bogotá and Mexico City already in October 2010, as well as adding services to Cancun in January 2011. But US airlines continue to reign in a number markets, including Los Angeles to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, where Virgin America has added services to the already existing flights from United, Delta and Alaska Airlines.


  1. Joel says:

    Did anyone think that maybe the reason there are still 11 unserved markets and the reason that Mexicana is no longer in business are somehow related?

    Not at all shocking that all service wasn’t backfilled.

  2. Gene Marck says:

    NOTE: Interjet took over the MEX-SAT authority of Mexicana. They are competing with Aeromexico which was one of the two incumbents on the route.

  3. dwight says:

    I don’t think they are sluggish at all due to the current economic climate and their alliance with Skyteam member Delta, I think the growth is a slow but long term transition into Latin America.

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