Aeromexico is hopeful that ongoing talks between the USA and Mexico to liberalise the two countries' air services agreement could pave the way for a joint venture with SkyTeam partner Delta Air Lines.

The Mexican carrier's chief executive Andres Conesa tells Flightglobal that the carrier wants to pursue antitrust immunity with Delta if US and Mexican officials strike a deal for open skies that will allow for such co-operation.

"We support the opening of skies, but the changes must be consistent with a framework that will allow us to have antitrust immunity with Delta," he says. Conesa notes that the precise terms of open-skies agreements can differ from country to country, and it is not clear yet what an open-skies deal between the USA and Mexico will look like.

Officials from both countries have met several times this year to discuss liberalising the existing air services agreement, which restricts the number of airlines that can serve each US-Mexico city pair. Conesa says the most recent meeting took place in Mexico City earlier this month.

Being able to establish a joint venture with Delta will allow Aeromexico to compete better, says Conesa: "It's a tool that is heavily used in many parts of the world: in the US, in Europe, in Asia," he adds.

Delta has a 4.2% stake in Aeromexico following a $65 million investment in the Mexican carrier in 2012. Delta's pension trust has also acquired a share in Aeromexico, says Conesa. Together, Delta and Delta Master Trust hold about a 9% stake in Aeromexico, he adds.

The two airlines also have an extensive codeshare agreement and an MRO joint venture. There are currently no plans for Delta to increase its stake in Aeromexico, says Conesa, but he notes that foreign-ownership laws in Mexico are gradually becoming more open.

Currently, foreign ownership in Mexican airlines is capped at 25% of voting shares. "I expect this to change in the future," says Conesa, noting that Mexican authorities have liberalised foreign-ownership restrictions in other sectors such as banking and the media.

Source: Cirium Dashboard