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Latino Daily News

Sunday February 26, 2012

Mexicana Airlines Set to Return to the Skies

Mexicana Airlines Set to Return to the Skies

Photo: Mexicana Airlines Returning to Air

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Mexican airline Mexicana de Aviacion, grounded since August 2010 while in bankruptcy proceedings, is set to return to the skies under new ownership.

Early this month, private company Med Atlantica deposited $300 million and showed proof of its ability to recapitalize the airline, which could resume operations in April, officials said.

“The new owners have decided to invest another $300 million in hotel projects and $50 (million) more for contingencies, which amounts to $650 million,” SNTTASS transportation workers union chief Miguel Angel Yudico told Efe Friday.

The union leader said Mexicana, once one of Mexico’s two leading airlines, will start flying again with a staff of just 2,500 employees and therefore will begin negotiating severance packages with its remaining 5,500 employees in the coming days.

“The next step will be to sign an agreement with its creditors and for this country’s aviation authorities to provide Mexicana de Aviacion with authorization to fly, which is expected to happen in the next few weeks,” Yudico said.

“The important thing is it’s a done deal that Mexicana de Aviacion will return to the skies after a year and six months of anguish and despair for thousands of workers and their families,” he said.

The Mexicana group of airlines, which also includes sister budget carriers Click and Link, grounded its operations in August 2010 after nearly nine decades in business and filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure a debt load of more than $800 million.

Bankruptcy Judge Felipe Consuelo Soto said in a press conference Friday that Med Atlantica beat out more than a dozen other potential suitors by providing documentation to certify the existence and availability of the funds needed to recapitalize the airline.

Med Atlantica is led by Spanish businessman Christian Cadenas, although 80 percent of the group’s capital comes from Mexican investors.

Soto said the airline could begin flying again in April with a fleet of seven planes.

For his part, the head of the Communications and Transportation Secretariat, Dionisio Perez Jacome, said in a radio interview that Mexicana will receive its new air operator’s license “once Med Atlantica signs the restructuring agreement with Mexicana’s creditors.”

The airline said that once the bankruptcy proceedings are finalized it will look to recover slots for domestic and international flights that had been temporarily awarded to other carriers.