Mexico’s Military Launches Airline, Inaugural Flight to Tulum Revealed

Mexico entered a new era as its army-launched airline, Mexicana, embarked on its maiden flight from Mexico City to the Caribbean resort of Tulum on Tuesday. 

The significant move underscores President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s emphasis on empowering the country’s armed forces, which now manage a diverse portfolio, including airports, hotels, trains, customs services, and tourist parks.

General Luís Cresencio Sandoval, Mexico’s defense secretary, defended the military’s involvement in various businesses, stating that such diversification is common in developed nations. 

Notably, only a handful of countries, such as Cuba, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and Colombia, operate military-run airlines, predominantly focusing on under-served domestic routes.

In contrast, Mexicana plans to cater to tourists, offering flights from Mexican cities to popular resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, and Mazatlan. 

The airline aims to distinguish itself through competitive pricing, with initial ticket sales offering rates around $92 for the Mexico City to Tulum route, claimed to be one-third cheaper than commercial carriers.

Despite this ambitious start, Mexicana faced challenges during its inaugural flight as adverse weather conditions in Tulum forced a reroute to Merida. 

The flight eventually reached Tulum, albeit with a delay, highlighting initial operational hurdles.

Mexicana also aspires to connect to 16 regional airports with limited or no existing flights. 

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Military Influence, Economic Shift, and Strategic Expansion

Mexico entered a new era as its army-launched airline, Mexicana, embarked on its maiden flight from Mexico City to the Caribbean resort of Tulum on Tuesday.

Assuaging concerns about military involvement, the cabin crew appeared to be civilians, aligning with the structure where the air force operates under the army in Mexico.

General Sandoval revealed that Mexicana commenced operations with three Boeing jets and two leased Embraer planes. 

Plans include acquiring or leasing five additional jets by early 2024. President López Obrador hailed the event as historic, marking the revival of the previously privatized Mexicana airline, which ceased operations in 2010.

This move reflects López Obrador’s dual emphasis on military influence, emphasizing its integrity and patriotism, and a return to a more state-driven economy reminiscent of the past. 

While privatizations in the 1980s addressed inefficiencies in state-run enterprises, the current administration frames its efforts to revive similar initiatives on a smaller scale as a historic economic shift.

In addition to overseeing the airline, the military’s role extends to major infrastructure projects and domestic law enforcement. 

The Felipe Angeles airport, from where Mexicana took off, was built by the army, further reinforcing their involvement in key national projects.

Beyond boosting traffic at the Felipe Angeles airport, Mexicana is poised to complement the president’s Maya Train tourism project, connecting beach resorts and archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. 

The military, despite lacking experience in commercial aviation, has established a subsidiary to manage Mexicana, reflecting a strategic diversification into the airline industry.

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