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Mexico’s Mexicana Airlines, run by army, takes off with first flight to Tulum

Mexico launched its army-run airline Tuesday, when the first Mexicana Airlines flight took off from Mexico City for the Caribbean resort of Tulum.

It was another sign of the outsized role that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given to Mexico’s armed forces. The airline’s military-run holding company now also operates about a dozen airports, hotels, trains, the country’s customs service and tourist parks.

Gen. Luís Cresencio Sandoval, Defense Secretary, Mexico, said that having all those diverse businesses run by the military were “common in developed countries.”

The Mexicana Airline plans to carry tourists from Mexican cities to resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco and Mazatlan. Flights appear to be scheduled every three or four days, largely on weekends.
The carrier hopes to compete mainly on price: the first 425 tickets sold offered prices of about USD 92 for the flight from Mexico City to Tulum, which the government claimed was about one-third cheaper than commercial airlines.
However, Mexicana’s first flight didn’t go according to plan. The company said Flight MXA 1788 had to be re-routed to the colonial city of Merida because of poor weather conditions in Tulum. After a wait, it finally took off again and arrived in Tulum about five hours after it took off from Mexico City, about double the usual travel time.

Mexicana also hopes to fly to 16 small regional airports that currently have no flights or very few. For those worried about being told to “Fasten your seatbelt, and that’s an order,” the cabin crew on the Mexicana flight appeared to be civilians. In Mexico, the air force is a wing of the army.

Sandoval said the airline began operations with three Boeing jets and two smaller leased Embraer planes, and hopes to lease or acquire five more jets in early 2024.

López Obrador called the takeoff of the first Boeing 737-800 jet “a historic event” and a “new stage,” marking the return of the formerly government-run airline Mexicana, which had been privatised, then went bankrupt and finally closed in 2010.

(Source: Associated Press)


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