New oneworld member Mexicana expects to return to the black next year as the group takes a breather after its recent period of rapid expansion and change.

"Basically we've reshaped the company. Now we need to stabilise all the changes," says Mexicana chief executive Manuel Borja. "Next year we'll stabilise and return to profitability."

Mexicana in November will formally join oneworld, completing the last step in a bold new business plan which has seen the carrier launch European services, a new regional airline and three new aircraft types over the last year. The carrier has also overhauled all its IT systems, a process which took over two years and culminated in Mexicana completing a switch to Amadeus in early October.

Borja says Grupo Mexicana, which began a transformation after it was sold by the government to Grupo Posadas in late 2005, was just under break even in 2008. The carrier's original business plan called for a return to profitability in 2009 but swine flu and the global recession created a brutally tough environment for all Mexican carriers in the first half of the year. Traffic has since recovered but Borja says for the full year Mexicana still expects a "slightly worse" loss than 2008.

While Mexicana is planning to put the brakes on expansion in 2010 there is one last push before the year is out. In December it will open a new hub in Cancun with six new international routes. The expansion, partly made possible by basing two regional jets in Cancun, will increase the number of international destinations Mexicana serves from Cancun from five to 11. Borja says the flights will be scheduled to optimise connections between Latin America and the US.

Source: Airline Business