Mexico's Aeromar seeks to add four CRJ200s in 2011

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Mexico's Aeromar has pushed back plans to introduce Bombardier CRJ200s from the fourth quarter of this year to next year's first quarter but still aims to take up to four CRJ200s in 2011.

ATI reported in July that Aeromar, which currently operates 14 ATR 42 turboprops, was close to finalising a deal with GECAS for two ex-Jazz CRJ200s that the Mexican carrier was aiming to place into service in October and November. But Aeromar president Ami Lindenberg says the deal with GECAS ended up falling through and the carrier is now talking to other leasing companies for two CRJ200s that would be delivered early next year.

Lindenberg says Aeromar is currently in contact with three or four European leasing companies with available CRJ200s. "We're looking forward to concluding a deal with another lessor," he tells ATI. "We're now working on aircraft for January."

He adds the carrier will start with two CRJ200s and look to add two more of the type later in 2011. He says in addition to the four CRJ200s Aeromar may also add two ATR 42s to its fleet in 2011.

Lindenberg says "the CRJ market is full of aircraft" and "I'm not worried about finding aircraft". But he says Aeromar is not willing to consider most CRJ200s that are available because the carrier will take aircraft that have a "high standard maintenance condition".

The CRJ200s will help Aeromar fill some of the void left by Mexicana and its Link unit, which had operated 15 of the type before suspending operations in late August. Aeromar codeshared with Mexicana on all its routes and also wet leased the equivalent of 1.5 ATR 42s to Mexicana, which were used in the Mexico City to Leon, San Luis Potosi, Tampico, Veracruz and Zacatecas markets.

Lindenberg says Aeromar continued to operate a full schedule for Mexicana in these markets until noon on 28 August, when Grupo Mexicana suspended all operations. Aeromar has since launched its own Aeromar-branded service to Leon and Veracruz to replace the capacity that had been provided under the Mexicana brand as part of the wet-lease deal. Aeromar also has also added frequencies to San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas, markets it already served with its independent operation along side Mexicana-branded flights under the wet lease arrangement.

Lindenberg says "for the moment" Aeromar is not serving Tampico as demand in this market has fallen due to security issues in the city. "We'll see how things develop," he says.

But Aeromar has redirected some of the capacity previously used under the wet-lease to launch its own services to Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, two markets previously served by Mexicana's Click unit.

Lindenberg says Mexicana only accounted for 12% to 15% of Aeromar's revenues. "We've recovered it very, very quickly - actually immediately," he says. "We're in better position today than a few months ago. And we believe in the next six months we'll be able to contribute more to the Mexican market."

He says Grupo Mexicana continued to pay Aeromar for the wet-leased aircraft until it suspended operations but Aeomar does have a very small debt that is part of the $3 million Grupo Mexicana owes to the IATA clearinghouse.

Aeromar had been codesharing with Mexicana since 2007 but before that had a codeshare in place with Aeromexico. Lindenberg says Aeromar and Aeromexico continued to interline until last month, when he says the interline deal was terminated by Aeromexico.

He says revenues from this interline were "very small" and he does not understand why the arrangement was terminated. Aeromar competes on many routes with Embraer ERJ-145s operated by Aeromexico Express but interlines between rival carriers are typical.

"I still believe in partnerships. I still believe in all alliances. Two airlines working together can provide better service to passengers and be more efficient in general," Lindenberg says.