Mexicana flight attendants have begun voting on a new contract proposal which their union hopes will help persuade investors to re-launch the bankrupt carrier. The carrier's pilots union is also working on a new contract proposal as it continues to talk to potential new investors.
Flightglobal reported on 27 August - only a few hours before Grupo Mexicana announced it would suspend all operations from 28 August - that Mexicana flight attendant union ASSA was planning to submit a new contract proposal to the company's new owners Tenedora K by the beginning of September. An ASSA spokesman says the union went ahead and completed the proposal despite the suspension of all flight operations and members began voting on it earlier this week.
The spokesman says the union has not yet secured votes from a majority of Mexicana's 1,367 flights attendants but ASSA is confident the required majority will be reached on Thursday.
"We are making a final proposal," he says. "Votes are going on at this time. Even though we have not reached the majority yet, there is a tendency for it."
He adds: "We expect to have a final positive result for this proposal, and then we can let the authorities and investors know that ASSA has a commitment with Mexicana for many years to come."
Tenedora K, the Mexican investor group which acquired a 95% stake in Grupo Mexicana on 20 August but according to the carrier's unions have not yet invested in the company, is now considering potentially re-launching the carrier. But the airline's unions are also talking to other potential investors.
Significant labour concessions are seen as critical for any restructuring and re-launch of the airline. Tenedora K last week said its potential rescue of Mexicana was dependent on new union agreements and singled out ASSA for not willing to agree to concessions.
ASSA initially rejected a proposal from Tenedora K to lay off all of Mexicana's flight attendants and rehire 25% under the lower-cost flight attendant contract ASSA holds for Mexicana subsidiary Click. The new proposal now being voted on retains the current Mexicana contract but would lower total flight attendant costs by about 30%.
A spokesman for Mexicana pilots union ASPA says ASPA is also now working on a new long-term contract proposal which would reduce pilot costs by about 25%. ASPA and Tenedora K forged an initial agreement two weeks ago but this deal only outlined salary reductions for 100 days. The initial idea was for ASPA and Tenedora K to subsequently work on a new long-term deal while the airline continued to operate over the initial 100-day period.
The ASPA spokesman says the union now realises it should follow ASSA in seeking a long-term agreement in parallel to its efforts to secure long-term investors. He says ASPA, which owns a 5% stake in Grupo Mexicana, is "now working on getting other people to invest" besides Tenedora K.
He says ASPA has already met with several other potential investors including an unnamed US investor based in Dallas. But he says the union also has wasted time fielding illegitimate requests from people and companies who claim to be investors or represent investors.
The Mexican government is now working with the unions in trying to secure investors who are interested in re-launching the airline, thereby saving at least some of Grupo Mexicana's 8,000 jobs. The ASPA spokesman says yesterday the unions met with the country's labour secretary and today a meeting took place with the transportation secretary.
But while the government wants to see Mexicana survive, is not willing to bail out the company or invest in re-launching the carrier. While it is continued to be viewed as a potential investor, Tenedora K has been criticized by the government for insisting on government concessions and demanding labour concessions which were unreasonable or even illegal.