Aeromexico and Delta Air Lines plan to fight conditions imposed by US regulators on the carriers' proposed joint venture, which would have required the airlines to divest 30 slot pairs at two key airports.
"We think the remedies are too strong," Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa tells FlightGlobal on the sidelines of the ALTA Leaders Forum in Mexico City. The carriers plan to file comments with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) later this week.
The DOT tentatively approved anti-trust immunity for the two airlines earlier this month, with a number of conditions. Among these is a requirement that the carriers divest 24 slot pairs at Mexico City and six slot pairs at New York John F Kennedy. The ATI would also be granted for a limited five-year period.
Delta and Aeromexico have so far remained silent on whether they accept the DOT's conditions, with Delta only saying they were reviewing the tentative order.
Conesa says the number of slots that the DOT want divested is "too stringent" and would lead to the two airlines having substantially less presence at the two airports.
Mexico's competition regulator COFECE had in May approved the joint venture, with the condition that the carriers divest eight slot pairs at Mexico City. Conesa believes this is sufficient.
"They [US regulators] are concerned there is not enough competition but we think there is," says Conesa.
Aeromexico and Delta still fully intend to implement their joint venture in early 2017, despite plans to argue against the conditions. "We remain convinced that we want to do the JV," says Conesa. "Even the US DOT recognises that it will have a positive impact on the US-Mexico market."
Aeromexico's rivals, however, do not agree that the slot divestures called for by the DOT are excessive.
Enrique Beltranena, the chief executive of Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris says of the number of slot pairs: "It's not enough, but it's better than nothing."