Monday, May 20, 2024

New Mexicana airline completes first test flight with military plane

Mexico’s new military-run commercial airline is preparing for its inaugural flight on Dec. 26, following initial test flights over the weekend.

The first test flight was undertaken using a Boeing 737-800 plane owned by the Defense Ministry (Sedena), which flew to Tijuana International Airport without passengers and returned to the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) north of Mexico City.

Though the first Mexicana plane flew to Tijuana, the airline will not yet offer regular service to the northern destination. (Omar Martínez/Cuartoscuro)

“Look what a beauty,” Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda wrote on social media as the aircraft completed the outward journey. “The Mexicana de Aviación plane that took off at AIFA is landing in Tijuana, as part of the test flights to start operations VERY SOON.”

The plane had previously been kept at Monterrey International Airport, where it was repainted in the airline’s colors and received a new license plate to change its registration from a military to civilian aircraft. Two other Boeing 737s that are on loan to Mexicana from the Mexican Air Force are going through similar preparations.

Each of these Boeing 737s is a single-aisle aircraft with capacity to carry 130 passengers and an average lifespan of 15 years. Mexicana will also lease two smaller Embraer 145 aircraft for its initial phase of operations.

The airline’s launch date has already been delayed by several setbacks. In October, it was forced to suspend ticket sales while awaiting certification from Mexico’s Federal Aviation Agency (AFAC), which was finally granted on Oct. 30.

Mexicana has said that its operational centers will be the AIFA and the new Tulum International Airport, both of which are run by the military. The route between the AIFA and Tijuana was initially expected to be one of the airline’s main services.

However, in mid-November, the airline announced that it would not be able to serve the 20 routes it had planned during its first phase of operations – and both Tulum and Tijuana have been left out of its preliminary schedule.

For now, Mexicana will open with flights from the Mexico City to 10 destinations: Acapulco, Huatulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, Monterrey, Villahermosa and Guadalajara. Travelers who had already booked tickets to other destinations will be reimbursed.

The airline will also not be able to fly outside of Mexico or provide third-party services until its aircraft are approved by international agencies. In the long-term, the federal government has said that Mexicana will continue to focus on covering national routes.

Despite these challenges, President López Obrador has continued to express optimism about the new government-run service, and confirmed on Sunday that he will attend the airline’s scheduled inauguration on Dec. 26.

With reports from Infobae and Milenio

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