Aeromexico will begin daily service later this month between Mexico City and Washington, D.C., as part of a careful expansion in the U.S. by the publicly traded Mexican flag carrier. The new route begins May 21 with once-daily flights connecting Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia, Aeromexico’s 16th U.S. destination. Schedules show new service by the Aeromexico Group to Atlanta starting on July 1.
The airline plans to place a Boeing 737-700 configured for 12 seats in business class and 118 in economy class on the Mexico City-Washington route. It has assigned a 100-seat Embraer E190 operated by sister company Aeromexico Connect to serve Atlanta. In addition to the new destinations, Aeromexico expects to add a fifth daily flight to Cancun from New York JFK International Airport in July.
The Aeromexico Group consists of Aeromexico, which operates 55 Boeing 737s, 767s and 777s; and Aeromexico Connect, with 51 Embraer ERJ 145 and E190 regional jets, according to first-quarter 2012 results. In March 2011, the group said it would invest $1.3 billion to acquire 10 new E190s and 10 Boeing 737NGs. Aeromexico holds firm orders for seven Boeing 787 Dreamliners, scheduled for delivery in the summer of next year and to serve destinations in Europe, Asia and South America, said Jorge Goytortua, executive vice president of sales.
The route expansion amounts to a new thrust by the Aeromexico Group, which debuted just over a year ago on the Mexican stock exchange. With the demise of its main domestic rival—Mexicana—to bankruptcy in 2010, Aeromexico now claims 43 percent market share for flights in Mexico and 21 percent for international flights. “You must have a robust and careful business plan to start to develop your network. That’s basically what we’re doing,” Goytortua told AIN. “We’re oriented as a company [toward] profitability. It’s not a matter of putting capacity into the markets; it’s a matter of making money.”
In July 2010, the FAA downgraded Mexico’s safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 after a safety audit of the country’s Civil Aeronautics Board. The action restricted Aeromexico’s ability to expand in the U.S. The restoration of Category 1 status later that year allowed the airline to reinstate 45 daily code-share flights with partner Delta Air Lines, increase frequencies to existing U.S. destinations and add service to San Antonio. Last August, Delta and Aeromexico announced a long-term, exclusive commercial partnership that included a $65 million investment by Delta in the Mexican carrier.