- Calafia Airlines has suspended operations due to pending procedures with the Mexican Civil Aviation Federal Agency, leaving passengers stranded.
- If Calafia Airlines ceases operations, it would be the third Mexican carrier to do so since 2020, following Interjet and Aeromar.
- The regional travel market in Mexico is facing challenges, with only Transportes Aéreos Regionales showing signs of growth. The Mexican army is set to launch a state airline, Mexicana de Aviación.
Mexico may be on the brink of losing yet another airline. Calafia Airlines, a regional carrier operating in the north of the country, has halted flights since last week due to operational challenges, leaving passengers angered and stranded.
What is happening with Calafia Airlines?
Last week, it was reported by Mexican media outlets that Calafia Airlines had suspended operations without warning. According to the reports, the carrier had halted all flights due to “pending procedures with the Civil Aviation Federal Agency” in Mexico.
Calafia Airlines is a small regional carrier based at Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). It operates short-haul flights to destinations in the region, including Tijuana (TIJ), Mazatlán (MZT), and more.
The airline was supposed to resume flights during the weekend, but this has not happened yet. Simple Flying reached Calafia Airlines for comment. The company confirmed all flights are suspended until August 19.
The third Mexican airline ceasing operations since 2020
If Calafia Airlines does cease operations entirely, it would be the third Mexican carrier to do so since 2020. In reality, Calafia Airlines had faced a complex recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company carried 49,698 passengers between January and June 2023, a 34.5% recovery versus the same period in 2019.
According to data from the Mexican government, Calafia Airlines only had one aircraft in its fleet at the end of 2023’s second quarter. This aircraft is an Embraer E145ER.
In December 2020, Mexico lost Interjet. The carrier, which was the country’s third largest at the moment of its bankruptcy, operated a fleet of 88 aircraft composed of Sukhoi Superjet and Airbus-based planes.
In February 2023, Aeromar ceased operations. The ATR-based regional carrier faced a lengthy financial crisis, forcing its closure this year.
A few months later, Mexico saw the inauguration of a new carrier, though. Aerus, a regional airline flying mainly from Monterrey International Airport (MTY), launched operations in April with a fleet of Cessna Caravan aircraft and the promise of introducing Alice, the all-electric aircraft, in future years.
The challenges of regional travel in Mexico
While Mexico’s top three –Volaris, Aeromexico, and Viva Aerobus– are known for having fully rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic and on growth mode, the same can’t be said about the country’s regional market.
Aeromar ceased operations, unable to fully recover its pre-pandemic traffic. Calafia Airlines may follow next. Transportes Aéreos Regionales seems to be the only regional Mexican carrier on the rise, despite only recovering 45.4% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels as of June 2023.
Transportes Aéreos Regionales and Ethos Asset Management INC. USA recently announced a new long-term financing partnership. Ethos will provide a significant capital infusion to the carrier. Carlos Santos, CEO of Ethos Asset Management, said, “With little competition in the domestic regional market, the regional market is attractive, underserved, and difficult for other operators to access.”
In this scenario, the Mexican army is set to launch a state airline called Mexicana de Aviación. This new carrier is, in theory, being established to reach destinations currently underserved. However, the first route announcement by the company was disappointing in that regard. Mexicana de Aviación will serve the same popular destinations which are currently served by the country’s top three, such as Cancun, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Monterrey, Mérida, and more.
What do you think about Calafia Airlines halting flights in Mexico? Let us know in the comments below.