Mexican carriers have recorded a slight drop in domestic passenger traffic for the first half of 2010 but a sharp increase for the second quarter.

New data from Mexico's DGAC show Mexican carriers transported 11.9 million passengers on scheduled domestic services through the first six months of this year. For the same period last year Mexican carriers transported 12 million passengers on scheduled domestic services.

Traffic was up significantly in the second quarter due primarily to H1N1, which severely impacted operations in May 2009. For the quarter Mexican carriers transported 6.3 million passengers compared to 5.6 million last year. For the month of June traffic was flat at 2 million passengers while traffic was up over 20% in May and slightly up in April.

In the first quarter traffic was down all three months compared to 2009.

The decline in traffic so far this year has partly been driven by Aviacsa, which ceased operations in July 2009, exiting the market. Grupo Aeromexico also has cut capacity over the last year, leading to a slight drop in its June traffic. All of the other major players - including Grupo Mexicana, Interjet, Volaris and VivaAerobus - saw their domestic traffic increase in June.

Mexicana's mainline unit has since filed for bankruptcy protection and slashed capacity. Grupo Mexicana has claimed its Click and Link units, which are not part of the bankruptcy filing and continue to operate full schedules, are profitable. But DGAC statistics show that Link's domestic load factor was only 37% on domestic routes in the first half of this year.

According to the official DGAC statistics, Link carried 397,309 passengers and operated 21,568 flights on domestic routes through the first six months of this year. Link, which operates a fleet of 15 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s, had a domestic load factor of only 31% in 2009, its first year in operation.

Click carried 1.9 million domestic passengers and operated 25,888 flights in the first half of 2010. That translates into a load factor of roughly 68% as Click operates a mixed fleet of 100-seat Fokker 100s and 104-seat Boeing 717s.

Click and Link both have very small international operations while Mexicana mainline has a much larger international than domestic operation. Mexicana mainline carried 1.1 million domestic passengers and 2.3 million international passengers in the first half of 2010.

Grupo Aeromexico is the domestic market leader in Mexico. Regional unit Aeromexico Connect carried 2.1 million domestic passengers in the first half of 2010 while Aeromexico mainline carried 1.7 domestic passengers.

In the low-cost sector Interjet and Volaris each carried 1.6 million domestic passengers in the first half of this year while VivaAerobus carried slightly less than 1 million passengers.

International traffic, which was more affected by last year's H1N1 outbreak than domestic traffic, was up for both Mexican and foreign carriers. Mexican carriers transported 3.6 million passengers in the first half of 2010 compared to 3.2 million the previous year. Foreign carriers transported 9.4 million passengers on scheduled routes to and from Mexico compared to 8.6 million passengers in the fist half of 2009.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news