Mexico's military-run commercial airline to launch with military planes

Credit: REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia

By Kylie Madry

MEXICO CITY, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Mexico's newest commercial airline, due to be run by the military, is set to launch later this month using military aircraft after a deal to lease planes fell through, local media reported on Wednesday.

The airline, which revives the Mexicana name, will take flight using two Boeing 737-800s and a previous-generation 737-300, newspaper Reforma reported, citing sources.

The planes have been sent to be inspected, the head of Mexico's aviation authority AFAC told newspaper El Financiero.

AFAC declined a request for comment. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mexicana was initially set to receive 10 rented Boeing 737-800s in September and October. It is now also looking to strike a deal with regional carrier TAR to rent at least one Embraer 145, according to media reports.

Transportation Minister Jorge Nuno said on Wednesday he was unsure which planes would be used, but that the airline was gearing up to start flying several "initial" routes on Dec. 26.

Earlier this week he said Mexicana was still determining which routes to fly depending on the availability of planes.

The airline, backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, already pushed back its launch date from the beginning of this month due to lack of planes. Tickets were briefly available for sale online but the option was later taken down.

Mexicana will be unable to resume ticket sales until it obtains an air operator license, which it cannot do until it obtains the planes, Nuno added.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to revive the airline to offer low-cost options to travelers. Mexicana had been a major national carrier when it entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2010.

The company's take-off would mark another step in the administration's handover of traditionally civilian-led duties in the sector to the military.

A slew of airports previously operated by the transportation ministry have been placed under military control in recent days.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry Editing by Bill Berkrot)


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