Mexicana has resumed serving all routes but is still experiencing lighter traffic volumes and load factors as the pace of recovery following the swine flu outbreak is slow.

A Mexicana spokesman says passenger traffic is now down about 15% on domestic routes and about 20% on international routes compared to early June last year. But this is an improvement to May, when Mexicana passenger traffic was down on average about 30% compared to May of 2008.

He says average load factors are now close to 60%, compared to average loads in the mid 40s last month.

"It's getting better. It's picking up," the spokesman says. "By the end of the summer we think load factors will be back to normal."

While capacity is still down about 10% domestically and slightly more internationally, Mexicana is now operating all of its routes. In May capacity was down about 15%, with more flight cancellations in the first half of the month compared to the second half.

The spokesman says as of yesterday, when flights to Havana resumed, all of Mexicana's routes are being operated again. While Mexicana has been cancelling some frequencies on a day-by-day basis across the network, the carrier has continued to serve all of its routes throughout the crisis except Buenos Aires and Havana.

Mexicana was forced to suspend its Mexico City-Buenos Aires, Mexico City-Havana and Cancun-Havana services after the Argentinean and Cuban governments decided to ban all fights to and from Mexico.

Mexicana resumed service to Buenos Aires on 19 May after Argentina lifted its ban. The spokesman says the carrier is now operating seven of its normal 12 weekly frequencies to Buenos Aires.

Cuba finally lifted its ban earlier this week and Mexicana's flights to Cuba resumed yesterday. The spokesman says Mexicana mainline is now operating its one daily flight to Havana from Mexico City while its low-cost unit Click is now operating one of its two daily flights to Havana from Cancun. He adds Click's second Cancun-Havana flights will resume next week.

While Mexicana has not dropped any of its routes and capacity is expected to return to at or near pre-crisis levels by August, the carrier is not planning any international network expansion this year.

"We need to consolidate. We need to survive this year," the spokesman says.

He adds Mexicana's US and Canadian routes have been most affected as tourists from these countries continue to avoid Mexico although there is now more swine flu cases in the US than Mexico. "It's really an irrational response," he says.

The spokesman says Mexicana last week launched a campaign in the US "to fight this perception" and is offering heavily discounted fares and hotel packages. Mexicana parent Grupo Posadas is one of Mexico's largest hotel operators.

The spokesman says Click is also not planning this year to expand its network, which is entirely domestic with the exception of Havana. But he says new Mexicana regional subsidiary Link will continue its expansion as previously planned as it takes delivery of additional Bombardier CRJ200s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news