While Mexico's government has warmed to the concept of a single flag carrier, raising expectations of a possible merger between Aeromexico and Mexicana, the carriers rule out the prospect of any near-term deal.

Mexicana chief executive Manuel Borja says the carrier, which tried to buy Aeromexico last year but was thwarted by government competition authorities, is interested in making another attempt at a merger now the government has indicated the deal is potentially palatable. But Borja says Banamex, which bought Aeromexico last year from the government, does not seem interested in selling the carrier.

"I don't see a merger between the two of us in the short-term," Borja says. "Five years from now let's hope there's one legacy ­carrier in Mexico."

Both Borja and Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa confirm there are no talks between the two carriers.

"This issue of Aeromexico and Mexicana has been a hot topic for Mexico for the last 20 years. It's always a possibility," Conesa says. But he adds: "We want to make sure the company is profitable on our own so we can add value in a potential merger. We're concentrated on that. I'm sure they are as well."

In the meantime, competition between the two carriers is escalating after Mexicana added a Sao Paulo service to its long-haul expansion which will also see it fly to Europe for the first time. Mexicana is launching Mexico City flights to London Gatwick and Madrid early next year.

Source: Airline Business