Aeromar snaps up four Mexicana routes

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Mexican regional carrier Aeromar is attempting to fill some of the void left by Grupo Mexicana by launching this week four new routes and adding capacity on four others.

Aeromar president Ami Lindenberg says Aeromar tomorrow will launch four daily flights from Mexico City to Veracruz and two daily flights from Mexico City to Leon.

Lindenberg says Aeromar will also launch on 9 September service from its Mexico City base to the Pacific beach resorts of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca. Huatulco will initially be served twice daily and Puerto Escondido once daily, but Lindenberg says more frequencies may be added later if there is sufficient demand.

Lindenberg says Aeromar will also add this week one additional daily frequency in four of its existing markets - Manzanillo, Saltillo, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.

According to Innovata, Aeromar previously operated the Mexico City-Veracruz and Mexico City-Leon routes on behalf of Mexicana while the Huatulco and Puerto Escondido routes are completely new for the carrier.

Aeromar is an independent ATR 42 operator that had a comprehensive codeshare arrangement with Mexicana covering all domestic markets. Under the partnership Aeromar also sold its own tickets under its own code with the exception of a few markets - such as Leon, Tampico and Veracruz - which were operated under a wet-lease arrangement and therefore only sold by Mexicana.

In the Mexico City-Leon market, Aeromar operated three daily flights for Mexicana. Aeromar will now launch two daily flights under its own code. These will compete against Aeromexico's Connect unit, which according to Innovata operates seven daily frequencies with Embraer ERJ-145s.

In the Mexico City-Veracruz market, Aeromar had operated one daily flight for Mexicana that supplemented seven daily frequencies that were operated by Mexicana's Click unit. Aeromar will now launch four of its own daily flights, providing new competition for Aeromexico. Currently Aeromexico Connect operates seven daily flights between Mexico City and Veracruz, two of which were upgraded last week from ERJ-145s to larger Embraer E-190s.

Puerto Escondido was one of a few destinations in Mexico that was previously only served by Grupo Mexicana. According to Innovata, Click had operated nine weekly flights on the Mexico City-Puerto Escondido route.

After Mexicana, Click and regional unit Link ceased operations on 28 August, the Mexican government quickly worked with the country's remaining carriers to ensure air service was restored to Mexicana's exclusive destinations. Last week air service was restored to Minatitlan and Chetumal following the launch of new services by Aeromexico Connect and Interjet, respectively. Aeromar will now restore service to Puerto Escondido.

On the Mexico City-Huatulco route, Click previously operated 24 weekly flights according to Innovata. The only other carrier in this market, Interjet, announced last week plans to at least temporarily add capacity on the route.

Aeromar currently operates a fleet of 14 ATR 42s but has been planning to expand into regional jets later this year. The regional jet plan, which was finalised prior to Mexicana filing for bankruptcy and ceasing operations last month, includes operating an initial fleet of two Bombardier CRJ200s starting in the fourth quarter of this year.

Aeromar was also planning to add a codeshare with Continental Airlines this year. But the launch of the codeshare, which was initially expected to begin on 30 August, has been delayed due to the US FAA's decision in July to downgrade Mexico from Category 1 to Category 2 in its international aviation safety assessment (IASA) programme.

US carriers are prohibited from adding codeshares with carriers from countries which are not in Category 1. Aeromar and Continental went ahead and implemented the frequent flier portion of their new partnership on 30 August but now have to wait until after Mexico regains Category 1 status before starting their planned codeshare.

According to Mexican DGAC data, in the first half of this year Aeromar carried just over 290,000 passengers. That equates to about 2.5% of Mexico's domestic market.