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Aeromexico takes careful approach to long-haul growth

Aeromexico is taking a prudent approach towards adding new long-haul destinations, after it adds flights to Barcelona this June.

The SkyTeam carrier is focusing on adding frequencies on its international routes in the near term as it aims to keep systemwide capacity flat in 2019, Aeromexico chief revenue officer Anko van der Werff told FlightGlobal at the IATA Aviation Summit in Mexico City.

"I don't think you will have another long-haul destination for a while," he says. "We will be far more about frequency and growth. For example, Seoul Incheon is not even a daily product now." Aeromexico serves the South Korean capital four times weekly, FlightGlobal schedules data show.

Aeromexico is preparing to launch Barcelona service in June, after Emirates dropped plans to serve Mexico City via a stop in Barcelona from Dubai. Aeromexico briefly suspended plans for Barcelona flights, when it protested Emirates' intention to launch that route, saying that the fifth freedom rights awarded to Emirates were unfair.

Emirates was subsequently informed by Mexican authorities that it could operate only thrice weekly to Mexico City instead of daily as earlier planned, prompting the Gulf carrier to cancel the planned service, in a move that it called "hugely disappointing".

Aeromexico then said it would begin Barcelona flights from Mexico City on 15 June, operating thrice weekly with Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

Van der Werff declines to comment further on the Barcelona development surrounding Emirates, saying: "That fight has been very publicly analysed… We will look forward now and make sure we focus on the new route."

For its US transborder service, Aeromexico has no plans for major growth following its elimination of service to Boston, Portland (Oregon), San Jose (California) and Washington Dulles after a difficult 2018 in which transborder demand suffered amid overcapacity.

"The transborder revenue environment has rebounded," says Van der Werff. However, he adds that this assessment comes with "one very big caveat": "Last year was pretty bad."

Capacity cuts by both US and Mexican carriers have stabilised the market in recent months, but Van der Werff says there is still room for recovery: "I don't think we are there yet."

Aeromexico's flat capacity growth plans for 2019 will see the airline reduce domestic capacity slightly, offset by growth in the international market. Besides Barcelona, the carrier has also announced plans for new service to Cali in Colombia and Guayaquil in Ecuador in the second quarter.

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