Mexican regional carrier ALMA has ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy, citing the global economic crisis, the increase in fuel prices and the devaluation of the Mexican peso.

ALMA, which has operated domestic flights in Mexico since 2006 using a fleet of 50-seat Bombardier CRJs, is suspending all operations immediately. The airline states that it is bankrupt and is seeking court protection.

According to Flight's ACAS database, ALMA leases a fleet of seven Bombardier CRJ100s and 10 CRJ200s. GECAS is listed as its largest lessor, with six aircraft. Bombardier Capital also leases ALMA at least two CRJs.

 © Bombardier

ALMA launched as a low-cost carrier but over time adopted more of a hybrid model. The carrier operated mainly on business routes, focusing on sectors which were generally too thin for mainline operators.

In response to soaring fuel prices, ALMA earlier this year cut capacity and deferred plans to add more 50-seat CRJs. ALMA's original business plan envisioned a fleet of 35 CRJ100/200s as well as larger CRJ900s.

ALMA served about 25 destinations throughout Mexico, including several smaller cities where it offered exclusive non-stop connections to locations other than Mexico City. Its largest operation was in Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, where it had 12 spokes.

While it served Mexico City's secondary airport Toluca, ALMA specialised in offering exclusive point-to-point flights that bypassed Mexico City. ALMA's business model was perhaps most similar to US regional operator ExpressJet's scheduled unit, which ceased operations in September.

ALMA is the third Mexican carrier in the last few weeks and the fourth this year to cease operations. Low cost carrier Avolar and leisure carrier Aladia stopped operating last month, although the former is still trying to secure government authorization to resume flights. Aerocalifornia, a domestic legacy carrier, shut down in July.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news