Mexicana Restarts Operations With Tricky First Flight

By Spyros Georgilidakis | December 27, 2023

Mexicana de Aviación restarted operations this week, as a government-run low-cost carrier. But its inaugural flight faced some difficulties.

It is one of the oldest names in aviation, and the oldest airline in North America. The original airline started operations in 1921 and eventually became Mexico’s largest airline. By 2010, it had a fleet of Airbus A320-family single-aisles, along with A330 and B767 widebodies, plus some CRJ200 regional jets.

Mexicana Restarts Operations With Tricky First Flight
Photo: Secretaría de Gobernación

Unfortunately, Mexicana went bankrupt and ceased operations in 2010. But earlier this year, the Mexican government announced its intention to launch an airline with the same name, as a low-cost carrier. It later acquired the rights to the carrier’s name and logos.

The trade name of the new airline is Mexicana de Aviación, although officially it’s Aerolínea del Estado Mexicano. Somewhat unusually, the operator of the airline is Mexico’s Ministry of Defense. The airline’s base is the new Felipe Angeles International Airport (MMSM) – also run by the military.

Mexicana Restarts Operations With Tricky First Flight
Photo: Mexicana

Mexicana de Aviación’s Fleet

To start with, the new Mexicana will have a relatively small aircraft fleet. Its management’s plans initially called for the lease of 10 737s. However, a sudden rise in demand for used 737s (that we’ve covered HERE) meant that procuring jets has proven difficult.

A FAM 737-800 that will become part of Mexicana’s fleet. Photo: Jalbersr, CC BY-SA 4.0

So, the first two 737s that the airline will use are 737-800s that previously served in the country’s military (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana or FAM). The airline may use a third aircraft, a 737-300, also from the same source. A couple of wet-leased Embraer 145s, belonging to TAR Aerolineas, will handle shorter routes.

Mexicana’s inaugural flight was MXA-1788, from Felipe Angeles Airport in Mexico City to Tulum International (MMTL), on Tuesday the 26th. The flight departed on time, just after 8 AM, and should have lasted around an hour and a half.

Mexicana Restarts Operations With Tricky First Flight
Photo: Secretaría de Gobernación

But as it neared its destination, the flight had to enter a hold, waiting for weather conditions to improve. The Mexicana crew remained in a hold for just over 20 minutes, before deciding to divert.

They landed uneventfully at Merida Rejon Airport (MMMD), about 30 minutes after leaving their hold. The aircraft took off again later, landing at Tulum about 2 hours behind schedule. Later in the afternoon, the aircraft returned uneventfully to Mexico City.

Photo: Aquintero82

Mexicana will initially fly between Mexico City and various unserved and underserved domestic destinations, as well as popular tourist sites. Mexico’s government believes that the airline can compete with existing carriers on price.

It will be interesting to see if this proves to be the case. The airline is reportedly one of many “signature” projects of Mexico’s current government, along with several airport builds and railway expansions.


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