Two years after the pandemic marked a before and after in the global airline industry, part of the reconfiguration of the national market can be seen in the allocation of takeoff and landing times – known as slots – for the summer at the International Airport of Mexico City (AICM). While low-cost airlines continue to gain ground, even to the point of doubling their presence at AICM, big players like Aeroméxico have not stopped growing either.
When comparing the slots assigned for the summer of 2019 and those scheduled for the same period this year, Viva Aerobus is the airline that has gained the greatest presence compared to the pre-pandemic market with 148% more schedules, equivalent to more than 23,000 slots . Similarly, Volaris grew by 92% in the same period, earning more than 18,700 slots.
Even Aeroméxico, which maintains the largest presence at AICM, has had room to grow in terms of slots, with 34% more schedules than in 2019.
The interest of the airlines in continuing to gain ground in the AICM responds to several factors. On the one hand, Interjet’s cessation of operations left more than 50,000 vacant slots , which have been taken to a greater or lesser extent by its competitors, mainly Viva Aerobus and Volaris, which have executed an aggressive growth strategy by opening new routes and add more aircraft to their fleets.
Aeroméxico seems to have seen the same opportunity, since its strategy has involved returning to operate in Terminal 1 of the AICM after 13 years of moving all its operations to Terminal 2. The return of the airline took place through the transfer of nine routes, mainly to destinations in the north such as Los Mochis, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, among others.
For Fernando Gómez Suárez, an analyst in the airline sector, the interest of airlines in continuing to grow in the AICM stems from a market in constant recovery from the pandemic, although through different strategies.
“Viva Aerobus and Volaris have been taking advantage of the fact that there is still a gap after the departure of Interjet, there are discovered routes that are being absorbed by them and that are not so much of interest to Aeroméxico,” he explains. “Aeroméxico’s big bet is to recover international flights, where it does predominate, at least among Mexican airlines.”
The assignment of schedules for the summer does not seem to reflect any effect of the declaration of saturation of the AICM terminals, issued a few weeks ago, which, in the eyes of some specialists, could imply a tightening of the rules so that the airlines can obtain more slots .
Part of the declaration even urges the authorities “to take into account the new airport infrastructure” in the process of assigning schedules, referring to the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA). This occurred after even the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT) said that some operations in the AICM will be limited.
“I don’t think it’s the best determination, processes must be established. How are they going to do to relieve the airport? It is not just announcing it and now, but having an operational coordination for the distribution between both airports, if the case arises”, concludes Gómez Suárez.