Mexico’s Aeromar plans Monterrey expansion

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Mexican regional carrier Aeromar plans to launch several domestic routes to Monterrey in the second quarter and is also looking at eventually connecting Monterrey with San Antonio in Texas.

Aeromar currently serves about 15 cities in Mexico, mainly from its Mexico City hub, with a fleet of 14 ATR 42s. It currently does not serve Mexico's second and third largest cities - Guadalajara and Monterrey - but senior VP and CFO Ami Lindenberg says there are several opportunities it is now evaluating at Monterrey.

"We intend to operate new routes from Monterrey in May or June," Lindeberg tells ATI.

He adds it plans to begin serving Monterrey from "about four destinations". Lindenberg says additional destinations including San Antonio are being evaluated as part of a possible second phase.

San Antonio is currently Aeromar's only US destination with one weekly flight from San Louis Potosi.

Lindenberg explains there are now opportunities in Monterrey because several regional routes have been dropped by other carriers. He declined to disclose which routes Aeromar is looking at but says none of them are currently being served.

"Monterrey is suffering today from disappearing flights and Aeromexico cuts," Lindenberg says. "I'll operate routes where ATRs have a clear advantage."

He adds Aeromar's Monterrey expansion, which is made possible by cutting capacity on some of Aeromar's existing routes, will complement rather than compete with expansion planned by codeshare partner Mexicana. He says Mexicana, which last month unveiled plans to launch a new regional carrier using 13 Bombardier CRJ200s, plans to serve bigger cities from Monterrey than Aeromar.

Mexicana CEO Manuel Borja told ATI last week that while Mexicana's new regional carrier will be based in Guadalajara it plans to base at least a few of its CRJ200s in Monterrey, where Mexicana will create a secondary hub. Aeormar CFO Lindenberg says "we'll assist them to develop a new hub" and offer passengers more connections.

Lindenberg says Aeromar wasn't interested in operating regional jets for Mexicana and prefers to stick with a small turboprop operation. "For me it would cost exponentially to develop at a time we wouldn't want to do it," he says. "But for Mexicana, it's really a small operation with a good potential for the future."

Lindenberg says Aeromar and Mexicana have been working together for over 20 years, and have had a comprehensive codeshare in place for just over one year. He says for the last six months Mexicana also has been wet-leasing the equivalent of one and a half Aeromar ATR 42s, which are used to serve Tampico and Veracruz from Mexico City. On these routes Mexicana is responsible for selling all seats while on Aeromar's other routes Aeromar sells about 80% of the seats while Mexicana sells the other 20%.

Lindenberg says Aeromar is now discussing further strengthening its relationship with Mexicana. "We're working very well together. We're now working to develop all our networks so passengers can move [more] smoothly between origin and destination," he says. "We have very good results from this partnership - both us and Mexicana. Both sides are happy."

He adds that the "the best way to overcome crisis is to forge an alliance. No one else in the Mexican market is working together. Everyone is against everyone and everyone will lose because they are working in a lose-lose concept."