Former Aeromexico CEO Perezalonso remerges as Volaris chairman

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Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris has appointed former Aeromexico CEO Gilberto Pérezalonso Cifuentes as its new chairman, replacing Pedro Aspe Armella.

Pérezalonso was CEO of Aeromexico from late 2004 to late 2005, when he was replaced by current Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa. At the time Aeromexico was owned by government holding company Cintra.

Volaris in a statement announcing the appointment says Pérezalonso has also held senior positions with several other leading Mexican companies including Grupo Cifra, Grupo Televisa and Corporación Geo. He currently sits on the board of Grupo Gigante, Grupo Marhnos and Southern Copper.

Aspe, a founding investor who still owns a large stake in Volaris, has been chairman since the carrier launched five years ago. Volaris says Aspe will remain a shareholder and board member. He will also continue to be head of Volaris' human resources committee, which is responsible for labour relations and compensation issues.

Volaris stressed that with Pérezalonso as chairman the carrier will continue to pursue its expansion strategy. The carrier is rapidly growing its network, in particular its US network in partnership with Southwest Airlines, and its Airbus A320 fleet.

ATI reported earlier this month that Volaris, which currently serves four US gateways, was seeking approval to launch 23 new transborder routes. At the end of last week the DOT approved Volaris' application, which had promised that Guadalajara-Fresno would "begin immediately after receipt of the department's approval" followed by five other routes: Aguascalientes-Los Angeles, Guadalajara-San Francisco, Guadalajara-Sacramento, Mexico City-Oakland and Zacatecas-Chicago.

Volaris, however, has not yet provided launch dates for any of these routes. Volaris chief commercial officer Holger Blankenstein tells ATI the carrier decided to seek authority for such a large bunch of new routes because it did not stop analysing potential new markets during the four months Mexico had an FAA category two safety rating. Mexico was in category one from the end July last year until the beginning of December, preventing any Mexican carrier from applying for or adding any new US routes.

"In August, when Mexicana stopped operations, we had already identified some potential opportunities in the US. When we subsequently entered into category two, we continued working on market analysis and filed for more routes with the [Mexican] DGAC, some on the DGAC's request," Blankenstein explains.

"The reason for the 'lump sum' filing is rather simple: Mexican DGAC gave us all these routes that had accumulated in one document in January, and that's how it has to be filed in the DOT."