Mexican carriers have already assumed almost all the domestic traffic previously carried by Mexicana, but on international routes US carriers have been the big beneficiaries of Mexicana's suspension.
New data from Mexico's DGAC for September, the first full month after Mexicana's shutdown, shows Aeromexico and Mexico's three low-cost carriers all reporting strong year-over-year traffic increases.
In September 2009, Mexicana carried 532,000 domestic passengers, accounting for 30% of the total domestic market. The data from September 2010 show 93% of this traffic, has been picked by other carriers as the total size of the market only shrunk by 2% from 1.775 to 1.739 million passengers.
These figures show the overall impact of Mexicana's suspension on the market has so far been surprisingly very small as the country's overall domestic market was roughly flat through the first eight months of 2010, even with Mexicana operating at full capacity through July. There could potentially be a bigger impact during the peak winter season, which starts next month, but Mexicana is now aiming to re-launch services in December with capital being supplied by a new investor.
Aeromexico in September had the biggest total gain in domestic passengers as its traffic increased 24% from 615,000 to 808,000 passengers. It captured 46.5% of the total domestic market in September, compared to only 34.6% a year ago.
Mexico's new second largest carrier is now Interjet, which saw its September domestic traffic jump 42% from 215,000 to 369.000 passengers. The low-cost carrier now has a 21.2% share of the domestic market compared to 12.1% a year ago.
Another low-cost carrier, Volaris, saw its September traffic grow 29% to 313,000 passengers. It now has an 18.1% share of the domestic market compared to a 12.6% share a year ago.
Mexico's third low-cost carrier, VivaAerobus, reported a 24% increase in traffic to 146,000 passengers. It now has an 8.4% share of the market, compared to a 6.3% share one year ago.
Magnicharters, which operates some scheduled services in addition to its main charter business, also has benefited from Mexicana's demise. Its domestic scheduled traffic was up 62% in September from 38,000 to 62,000 passengers, giving Magnicharters a 3.6% share of the total market.
Regional carrier Aeromar was the only remaining player to see its traffic shrink. Aeromar's traffic dropped 5% from 42,000 to 40,000 passengers, giving it a 2.3% share of the Mexico's domestic market.
In the aftermath of Mexicana's suspension, all of Mexico's carriers quickly launched several new domestic routes and added capacity on existing routes. But on international routes Mexican carriers were not able to react so quickly, in part because of Category 2 restrictions which are currently in place under the US FAA's international aviation safety assessment programme (IASA).
The US FAA downgraded Mexico from Category 1 to Category 2 earlier this year and until Mexico regains Category 1 status, which it hopes will occur in 2011, Mexican carriers cannot add capacity to the US or launch new transborder routes. This at least temporarily gives US carriers a huge advantage that they have exploited adding capacity on US-Mexico routes.
According to DGAC data, the five largest US carriers serving Mexico - American Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines--all reported significant increases in their Mexico traffic in September. American Airlines reported an 11% increase to 166,000 passengers while traffic at Continental Airlines jumped 22% to 129,000 passengers and US Airways traffic surged 62% to 92,000 passengers.
Overall foreign carriers saw their traffic to and from Mexico increase 27% in September to 1.1 million passengers.
Aeromexico was also able to increase its international traffic in September by 40% to 222,000 passengers while Volaris, the only other Mexican carrier with a sizeable international operation, more than doubled its traffic from 27,000 to 58,000 passengers.
But these gains only account for about one-third of the international traffic previously carried by Mexicana, which transported 300,000 international passengers in September 2009. Overall Mexican carrier international traffic dropped 72% in September from 489,000 to 285,000 passengers.
About three-quarters of Mexicana's international traffic has been absorbed by foreign carriers as the total size of the Mexico's international market actually increased by 24% in September. Foreign carriers now have an overwhelming 79% of Mexico's international market, compared to 64% last year.