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Mexico's Interjet seeks to lease two additional A320s

Mexico's Interjet is looking to lease two additional Airbus A320s as the Mexican market begins to stabilise after a tumultuous two years.

Interjet operates 15 CFM56-powered A320s and has 12 more A320s on order. The low-cost carrier was originally scheduled to take two additional A320s from Airbus in 2009 and two more in 2010, but it elected in late 2008 to defer all its 2009 and 2010 deliveries due to the economic slowdown and the tightening of credit markets.

Interjet Mexico  

Interjet CEO Jose Luis Garza says market conditions have since improved to the point the carrier is comfortable with resuming its expansion. As it is too late to reaccelerate its delivery schedule with Airbus the carrier is looking to lease two A320s.

"We expect to resume deliveries next year [2011]. In the meantime because we had a good performance last year we think we can add capacity," Garza tells ATI and Flightglobal sister publication Airline Business Magazine. "We're now low looking for additional capacity."

All Mexican carriers had a rough first half of 2009 as H1N1 and poor economic conditions impacted traffic and yields. But Garza says Interjet had a good second half of the year and the market is now more stable.

Garza adds the carrier is seeking "short-term leases" of three to four years as the aircraft added this year will eventually be replaced by new A320s from its outstanding order. Interjet is also requiring deliveries before June as it wants to have a larger fleet in place for the peak summer season.

Garza says Interjet will only consider aircraft that are of the same specification of its existing 15 A320s. That means A319s and A321s are out of the question as are any IAE-powered A320s. Garza says Interjet is open to leasing new and "semi-new" aircraft but commonality is crucial.

He adds Interjet over the last four months has received several proposals from leasing companies. Initially all the proposals were for aircraft of the wrong specification but Garza says more recently there have been a few proposals for CFM56-powered A320s, giving Interjet confidence that a deal can be done.

If it is successful in securing additional A320s, Interjet will use the capacity to expand its domestic network. Interjet now serves 22 airports in Mexico and has no immediate plans to launch international services.

Garza says while 2010 looks more promising than 2009 the Mexican market has not yet recovered to the point where rapid expansion can be pursued. Instead Interjet is focused on "consolidating our position this year" and will only pursue "slow growth".

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