Mexicana Link is launching four domestic routes later this week as the new regional carrier continues to expand its Bombardier CRJ200 fleet.

Grupo Mexicana says Link will begin on 17 September serving Queretaro from Guadalajara and Monterrey as well as Torreon from Guadalajara and Chihuahua. All four routes will be operated twice daily with 50-seat CRJ200s from Link's Guadalajara base.

Link, which early this year agreed to lease 13 second-hand CRJ200s with deliveries scheduled from March through October, says it recently took its 11th CRJ200s. The carrier currently serves 15 destinations in Mexico but with the new routes this will grow to 18 with the addition of Queretaro, Torreon and Chihuahua.

Queretaro, a colonial city in central Mexico, is a new destination for Grupo Mexicana. According to Innovata, Mexicana will compete against Aeromexico on the Queretaro-Monterrey route but will not have any competition on the Queretaro-Guadalajara route. Aeromexico Connect now operates two daily Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet flights between Queretaro and Monterrey.

Queretaro, which is also served from Mexico City by Mexican ATR 42 operator Aeromar and from Houston by Continental Express, last week expanded its small passenger terminal by opening a new arrivals hall. The Queretaro International Airport opened in 2004 and boasts the longest runway in Mexico. It also now houses a fast growing aerospace park with Bombardier, which manufactures parts for several aircraft types in Queretaro, as the anchor tenant.

At Torreon Grupo Mexicana already has a presence through its low cost unit Click, which links the northern Mexican city with two daily Fokker 100 flights from Mexico City. Link will compete on both of its new Torreon routes against rival Aeromexico Connect, which according to Innovata now operates one daily ERJ flight on both the Torreon-Guadalajara and Torreon-Chihuahua routes.

According to Innovata, the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua currently does not have service from any Grupo Mexicana carrier. Grupo Aeromexico, however, links Chihuahua with six domestic destinations and the city is also served by Mexican low-cost carriers Interjet, Volaris and VivaAerobus.

Grupo Mexicana, which before launching Link in March did not have any aircraft with less than 100 seats, has been using the new subsidiary to expand its domestic network. Link has allowed Mexicana to step up domestic competition with Aeromexico and fill the void left by ALMA, an independent Guadalajara-based regional carrier which ceased operations last year. ALMA, which also operated CRJ200s, operated several routes which are now served by Link including Queretaro-Guadalajara and Queretaro-Monterrey.

Grupo Mexicana corporate commercial director Isaac Volin says the new Link services to Chihuahua, Queretaro and Torreon "give us a strategic advantage and contribute to the consolidation of our company on the domestic aviation market, while residents of these cities will now have access to international connections operated out of Guadalajara by Mexicana".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news