Friday, August 23, 2013

Mexico's Interjet places big order for European aircraft

$800 billion price tag will add 1,600 jobs to corporate payrolls, reports the young airline

Guadalajara -
Despite a gloomy economic prognosis which Mexico received earlier this week from top PRI administration officials, coupled with a worrisome forecast for the tourism industry - a mainstay of the national economy - Interjet has signed a contract to purchase 20 copies of the new Superjet 100, a state of the art aircraft designed and built by a consortium of European firms.

Interjet president and CEO Miguel Alemán Magnani made the announcement Thursday in Mexico City. "The forecast for lower national growth this year won't affect our own plans for expansion," he said. "We have a business model which allows for alternative economic scenarios."

Alemán said that the new Superjet fleet, which is specifically designed for use on medium density routes with an average load of 80 passengers, will increase its own competitiveness while creating jobs and stimulating the economy as a whole.

The high tech aircraft will lead to lower fares and better service, Alemán predicted in statements to the press. He noted that a round trip ticket between Mexico City and Aguascalientes currently sells for 7,000 pesos, or about $540 USD. When the SuperJet 100 is placed in service on the same route, the price is estimated to drop 80% to 1,400 pesos, or about $110, he said.

According to published data the Superjet 100, which was mainly designed by Russian aerospace manufacturer Sukhoi, has a base unit price of $35 million. In addition to the 20 which Interjet has already committed to buy, the airline took an option on delivery of 10 more. The aircraft is built by Russian, French and Italian concerns. The fly-by-wire jet made its commercial debut in April 2011.

Alemán said the 20 aircraft already contracted for will cost Interjet $800 million by the end of 2014. But the Mexican carrier has budgeted $4 billion US over the next six years for the entire Superjet project, which includes the option to buy the additional units, plus maintenance and labor costs.

Interjet has already received two Superjets, which will begin operations in September. The remaining units will be delivered over the next 18 months. Interjet general director Jose Luis Garza claimed the new aircraft could increase corporate sales by as much as 85% over the next 18 months, as the airline seeks to dominate shorter domestic routes which are now prohibitively expensive for most travelers, and not profitable for carriers which rely upon larger, more costly to operate aircraft.

Interjet flies out of Mexico City and Toluca in the State of Mexico. Superjet destinations will include such mid-size cities as Aguascalientes, Campeche, La Paz, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Minatitlán, Reynosa, Torreón and Zacatecas. The airline, which began operations in December 2005, currently controls 28% of the Mexican air passenger market.

Garza said that the new fleet will boost Interjet payrolls by an estimated 1,600 persons, including pilots and cabin attendants, maintenance crews and sales personnel.

The Superjet can seat a maximum of 93 passengers. The manufacturers claim it is 10% cheaper to operate than similarly designed medium density aircraft.

Mexican airlines are bullish, despite the country's economic woes and tourism challenges. A week ago the national flag carrier Aeroméxico took delivery of a Boeing 787-8, the first of 19 such units it ordered in the summer of 2012 at an estimated cost of about $20 billion. The long range jet will begin domestic and international operations in October. Aeroméxico: Boeing 787 Dreamliner is on the way.

Aug. 24 - Interjet, which says it wants to be "the official airline of Yucatán," will offer special packages with Mérida hostelers to encourage domestic travel to the peninsula. The airline offers six flights (900 seats) to the White City every day.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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