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Mexicana struggles to survive, as consortium Tenedora K joins with pilots


The Tenedora K consortium, with 95% equity, and Mexicana’s pilots’ union with 5%, now reportedly own what remains of Mexicana de Aviacion. Operating now under Mexican and partial US (Chapter 15) bankruptcy protection, the carrier is a shell of its former self, apparently providing only domestic regional services through its local subsidiaries, Mexicana Click and Link; these two companies have been isolated from the bankruptcy proceedings and continue to operate more or less as normal, although the loss of any feed to and from the long-haul arm will be damaging.

The Tenedora K Consortium. A link to government?

The consortium has announced that "Tenedora K is a company formed by a group of Mexican businessmen as a vehicle to capitalise [MX, Click and Link], with the aim of rescuing them from the critical financial and operating situation they are in."

Tenedora K has not yet formally announced who its members are, but one to have confirmed is Grupo Industrial Omega, the holding company for a diversified  Mexican industrial group including Holzer and Company, Industria Nacional de Relojes Suizos, Inmobiliara Coapa Larca SA de CV, and Inmobiliara Castellanos SA de CV. Other reported participants include real estate group Industrial Omega.

A common link in these groups is Andrés Rozental, board member on each and a former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Sr Rozental is close to Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

Insurance group, Grupo Arizan, is also a reported part of the consortium.

It would not be unusual for a government to become involved, at least behind the scenes, in a rescue of a longstanding and former nationally owned flag carrier. There is no evidence of any financial support being forthcoming, but it would seem that the President has at least taken more than a passing interest in the carrier’s revival.

Previous substantial shareholder in Mexicana, hotel group Grupo Posadas, meanwhile last week announced it had sold its 30% holding in the company, Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico for a “symbolic” amount.

Only regional services to remain? At best a greatly reduced airline will survive

At a time like this many things inevitably fall between the cracks. Mexicana’s management and other functions are understandably lacking in updating information to travellers, and the latest information about services offered was posted a week ago.

Today the carrier’s online website is however only advertising domestic services for sale, along with two international operations from Mexico City, to Havana and to Guatemala, with only Havana actually offering ticketing.

So, with essentially only regional operations continuing, it looks very much as if all that is left of the airline now is

(i) the two subsidiaries, Mexicana Click and Mexicana Link; and

(ii) perhaps, a range of codeshares on foreign carriers – although Mexicana is not selling on these services at present. (Mexicana lists its codeshares as including Aeromexico, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, American Eagle, Avianca, Chautauqua Airlines, ClickMexicana, American Eagle, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, MexicanaLink, Qantas, SAM and Aeromar)

A grounded long-haul fleet?

Click operates an aged fleet of Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s, while Link flies Bombardier CRJ200 equipment. It seems clear that the bulk, if not all of the mainline jet fleet has however been grounded or repossessed by lessors.

Mexicana’s fleet

Aircraft type


In service





Aviation Capital Group



CIT Aerospace






RBS Aviation Capital






Aviation Capital Group









CIT Aerospace






Jetscape Inc



Macquarie AirFinance






ORIX Aviation Systems Ltd



CIT Aerospace



Aviation Capital Group



Sky Holding LLC





oneworld carriers remain silent on Mexicana

Meanwhile the oneworld site –where there is probably less excuse for failing to update information - continues to advertise Mexicana’s international services unchanged: “Mexicana flies to some 65 destinations in 15 countries in North America, Central and South America and Europe…..”

Major partner, American Airlines’ site is likewise silent on any developments, not even mentioning any Mexicana changes.

Pilots taking a leading role? Union leader Perfecto is an aviation and corporate law specialist

Fernando Perfecto, the head of Mexicana’s pilots’ union, is intriguingly, a specialist in corporate law with a postgraduate diploma from the Universidad Iberoamericana.

The law firm with which he is a senior associate, Mexico City’s Alanís, Serrano & Doblado, also holds his skills out as being in air law (even more intriguingly, he is listed as being a “Member of the Associations of Star Alliance Pilots (ASAP)” – seemingly incongruous for the head of a union at the oneworld airline).

What can emerge from the bankruptcy?

Given Captain Doblado’s active role, it is therefore likely that the pilots union will be much more than passive participants in any rescue programme. This can be positive and negative. A knowledge of the realities of the situation can be helpful. Alternatively, the pilots have been accused by the previous management of carrying a share of the blame for the cost problems of the airline.

Although it sounds as if there has been some compromise – such as salary reductions, temporary or otherwise – as part of the package, the history of pilot shareholdings in airlines is not illuminating. The 5% which they now hold is in fact a hangover from the previous status, but it would be best to have them off the books, as far as investors are concerned – unless there is a strong commitment to absorbing pain (unlikely) as the airline recovers. Lessors and other creditors would be reluctant to provide aircraft or other services to a company where top heavy pilot costs were effectively entrenched by an active pilot union shareholding.

And, if as expected, the airline’s size is halved – which would appear almost inevitable – this will not be achieved without ructions among pilots and flight attendants alike. What happens in the heat of a recovery plan can become cold comfort once the airline is flying again.

A recovery is possible, but difficult

Assuming that bankruptcy protection is achieved for a reasonable work-out period and that much of the reported USD800 million debt can be buried, there is however a prospect of Mexicana arising from the ashes. The now-former CEO, Manuel Borja Chico, had talked of the need for an infusion of some USD100-150 million being needed to restore the airline’s operations. The Tenedora K consortium is however keeping quiet on the amount it has injected.

However much is injected, as soon as there is money to be had, there will be creditors, often with preferential rights, such as airports, who will have their hands out for immediate payment.

Last week a bankruptcy court judge directed the carrier to pay fuel, catering and associated debts accrued in the US. Several US airports where Mexicana operated before it ceased flying have also sought approval to claim passenger facility charges (a head tax levied on an airline’s passengers).

… but not with public money

If indeed the Mexican government is playing any role in the recovery, it will be at pains to ensure that there is no overflow onto taxpayers who are already bearing the brunt of a serious economic downturn.  Mexico’s economy contracted 6.5% last year and only tough action by President Calderón, in imposing spending cuts and increasing taxes to contain the deficit, has restored a modicum of investment community confidence in the peso.

A flag carrier is only worth so much these days, when measured against much bigger stakes. This would be an injudicious moment to be imitating Canada’s example last year in bailing out its airline. And, in any case, Aeromexico is there to take up much of the slack if necessary.

Whatever the background, Mexicana’s saviours will have a very tough job on their hands to restore this previously unwieldy and cost heavy airline, confronted by a host of competition, back to health.

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