Mexico's SCT rejects bankruptcy court order to return Mexicana slots

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The Mexican Secretary of Communication and Transport (SCT) has rejected an order from Mexicana's bankruptcy court requiring other airlines to stop using former Mexicana slots and traffic rights.

Judge Felipe Consuelo Soto, who is in charge of Mexicana de Aviacion's bankruptcy protection process, ordered the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority DGAC, which belongs to the SCT, to "return [to Mexicana] the routes and landing and takeoff slots, which it owns and are being used by other airlines".

However, the SCT believes that it is not infringing on the court order, despite allowing airlines like Volaris and Interjet to operate these slots at heavily slot-controlled Mexico City International airport.

In a statement, the SCT says: "All landing and takeoff slots of Mexicana de Aviacion, as well as its routes, remain available to the airline, [which can make use of them] at the very moment it restarts operations, which requires the recapitalisation of the company".

Several weeks after Mexicana's grounding in August 2010, when its relaunch became increasingly unlikely, the SCT started to allow other airlines to use Mexicana's spaces and slots at Mexico City under a temporary agreement that had been designed to not to not interfere legally with the bankruptcy process.

Both Interjet and Volaris, which had been confined originally to Mexico City's secondary airport at Toluca due to unavailability of slots at Mexico City, started to build a strong presence at the larger airport, filling capacity abandoned by Mexicana and Aviacsa, which was grounded in 2009.

Although the bankruptcy process was expected to be resolved by 10 February, with all indications pointing towards the liquidation of Mexicana, judge Consuelo Soto prolonged the process "indefinitely" as former employee unions claimed that a new investor was "close" to inject fresh capital to resurrect the near-defunct airline.