Mexican airline in disarray amid flight cancellations, pilot protest
Financial troubles forced Mexicana de Aviacion, the first airline established in Mexico and among the oldest in the world, to suddenly cancel on Monday several regular flights to destinations in the United States, including Los Angeles, San Jose and Sacramento.
Confusion seemed to reign at the airline on Monday, as phone operators and a company spokeswoman offered differing information on which routes or flights were in fact canceled. By late afternoon, Mexicana.com had listed updated flight schedule modifications. The list, currently only in Spanish, shows schedules affected on routes between airports in Mexico and Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, New York and Orlando.
Mexicana spokeswoman Theresa Bravo, reached in L.A., said the airline was making efforts to accommodate passengers on canceled flights while Mexicana attempts to restructure itself. "Mexicana laments the inconvenience to passengers with these cancellations," Bravo told La Plaza. "All passengers are being protected, either on other Mexicana flights or with our commercial partners."
No other details were available, Bravo said.
Mexicana de Aviacion executives and investors held an extraordinary meeting in Mexico City on Friday to assess options -- including bankruptcy -- amid the airline's financial struggles. Pilots and flight attendants were told that as many as 500 positions could be slashed in a restructuring, prompting Mexicana employees to stage a protest Sunday inside Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City.
The pilots and flight attendants unions have asked President Felipe Calderon to intervene, but the federal government has so far declined to step in to bail out the airline (link in Spanish). The airline is asking employees to agree to deep cuts in salaries.
Separately, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Friday downgraded Mexico's overall aviation safety rating, affecting code-sharing agreements with U.S. airlines and temporarily barring all of Mexico's airlines from expanding service in the United States. The agency's statement on Mexico's aviation safety rating is available here. "The FAA is committed to working closely with the Mexican government and providing technical assistance to help Mexico regain its Category 1 rating," the statement says.
Further adding to Mexicana's ills, three of its planes were grounded last week -- one in Chicago and two in Canada -- after requests from creditors, Reuters reported. The planes in Canada were seized over a dispute with lessor Air Canada, reports said. In a statement, Mexicana called the Air Canada actions "legally unjustified."
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
Photo: Mexicana pilots and flight attendants protest inside Mexico City's international airport. Credit: Latercera.com