It’s been seven months since Interjet ceased operations. The Mexican low-cost carrier is still trying to mount a comeback, though every day that passes makes it a little more complicated. The other Mexican airlines have been quick to fill the gap left by Interjet and have done it rather successfully. Nevertheless, there’s still space to grow.
What was Interjet operating in January 2020?
In January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Interjet operated flights in ten countries. These were Mexico, United States, Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It had 25 international destinations and 30 domestic in Mexico. Monthly, it had an average of 10,492 flights and 1.67 million seats available.
Interjet was the third-largest airline in Mexico, after Volaris and Grupo Aeromexico. Plus, it competed directly with Aeromexico at the international landscape. In 2019, it carried over 15 million passengers.
Prior to the pandemic, Interjet was eyeing 2020 as a recovery year. It planned on focusing on the domestic market and increase its presence in the United States. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 crisis quickly toppled the airline. Once the flights halted, Interjet’s lessors started repossessing the airline’s Airbus A320 family fleet.
All of a sudden Interjet could only operate flights with its owned Sukhoi Superjet fleet. Then it couldn’t even do that. It stopped flying on December 11, 2020.
How big is the gap?
Interjet’s exit and Aeromexico’s Chapter 11 meant Mexico lost more than a hundred aircraft due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Aeromexico has been quickly recovering and has received more than ten new planes in the last two months. The big winners from Interjet’s demise are Volaris and Viva Aerobus. Enrique Beltranena, Volaris’ CEO, spoke about the subject last week. He said,
“What we’re doing this year and up to the first half of next year is filling the gap of the capacity that some competitors left over. We clearly see that the growth, in terms of ASMs, for this year is high; for the next year, we see it still being a little high. And when I mean high, it’s out of the logical trends.”
So now, let’s compare the data available. In August 2019, the Mexican airlines offered 41,700 flights, with 5.9 million seats available in the domestic market. Two years from that, the Mexican carriers will offer 34,661 flights and 5.4 million seats next month; that’s a 16.9% and 8.5% decrease, respectively.
Most of this gap can be attributed to Interjet’s demise, though some of it is also from Aeromexico and some small regional carriers, like Calafia Airlines.
What’s going on with Interjet lately?
Interjet is currently facing several challenges. From a labor point of view, its former employees are now striking against the company. They have seized every possible asset, from Interjet’s offices in Mexico City International Airport to the remaining Sukhoi fleet.
The airline is also facing a bankruptcy process at a Mexican court while having a debt of up to US$1,250 billion, according to several sources.
Additionally, Mexico’s police are looking for one of Interjet’s founders, Miguel Alemán Magnani. He is facing criminal charges related to possible fraud. While he is one of Interjet’s original owners, nowadays, he only has around 6% of the company.
Nevertheless, despite all these issues, the airline expects to operate again by 2022. Whether that happens remains to be seen, though many experts believe it will be tough for Interjet to fly again.
Did you ever fly with Interjet? How was it? Let us know in the comments.