Mexico's six low-cost carriers have already captured over half of all domestic traffic, although none of them are even two years old.

Aerolíneas Mesoamericanas (ALMA), Avolar, Mexicana subsidiary Click, Interjet, vivaAeroBus and Volaris carried 11.5 million domestic passengers last year, compared with 10.6 million by the incumbents. That equates to a market share of 52%.

All the carriers launched services within the past two years. They now fly 32.3% of all domestic ASKs (see chart) and are planning more expansion.

ALMA plans to add two Bombardier CRJ200s per month until the end of this year, bringing its fleet to 15. ALMA launched flights last June with only two CRJs, and has been quickly adding aircraft and routes ever since.

Volaris expects to add eight more Airbus A319s this year, bringing its fleet to 17 of the type. It started flying in March last year and added 11 new routes in the first quarter of 2007.

Click Mexicana is the slowest growing member of this group because it started first - in July 2005 - and inherited a network of 23 cities from its parent. But even Click is adding four more Fokker 100s this year.

An estimated half of the growth chalked up by Mexico's low-cost carriers is due to low fares. But the other half is coming from incumbent carriers, who are feeling the pinch. One telltale sign is when regulators start finding maintenance shortcomings. Last year officials grounded Aero California for several months. Azteca has also been grounded for similar reasons since March.

Aeromexico says a first quarter loss of $43 million, 65% worse than last year, is partly due to excess domestic supply and "extremely aggressive fares".

Commitments made in late April by the transportation chiefs from Canada, Mexico and the USA to expand their bilaterals could lead to more cross-border options for Aeromexico and Mexicana. But it offers no short-term relief from new low-cost rivals, some of which also aim to fly transborder.

Alma June 07
ALMA plans to grow its fleet to 15 CRJs by the end of this year 

Source: Airline Business