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Mexico’s Airline Launch Raises Eyebrows as First Flight Touches Down in Tulum

Mexico inaugurated its army-run airline, Mexicana, with the first flight departing from Mexico City to the Caribbean resort of Tulum. 

The launch underscores President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s emphasis on the role of the military in various sectors of the country, expanding beyond defense responsibilities.

Military-Run Airlines Found in Select Countries 

Gen. Luís Cresencio Sandoval, Mexico’s defense secretary, defended the diverse businesses run by the military, stating that such arrangements are common in developed countries. 

However, military-run airlines are a rarity globally, with only a few countries like Cuba, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and Colombia having them, primarily operating on under-served or remote domestic routes.

Mexicana aims to differentiate itself by offering affordable flights, with initial ticket prices for the Mexico City to Tulum route claimed to be one-third cheaper than commercial airlines. 

The airline also plans to connect Mexican cities with popular resorts such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, and Mazatlan, scheduling flights every three or four days, primarily on weekends.

The airline’s fleet currently comprises three Boeing jets and two smaller leased Embraer planes, with plans to lease or acquire five more jets in early 2024. President López Obrador hailed the event as a “historic” moment, marking the return of the previously government-run airline Mexicana, which had been privatized, faced bankruptcy, and closed in 2010.

López Obrador’s vision aligns with his belief in the military’s reliability and patriotism, entrusting them with various roles, including the operation of infrastructure projects and law enforcement. The president’s approach combines a reliance on the military with a nostalgic view of state-run enterprises that dominated Mexico’s economy until privatizations in the 1980s.

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Mexico’s Mexicana Airlines Takes Flight

Mexico inaugurated its army-run airline, Mexicana, with the first flight departing from Mexico City to the Caribbean resort of Tulum.

While critics argue against the efficiency and effectiveness of state-run enterprises, López Obrador views the military’s involvement in running Mexicana and other ventures as a step toward recreating a collectivist economic model from Mexico’s past. 

The military’s subsidiary is tasked with overseeing Mexicana, despite lacking prior experience in commercial aviation.

Mexicana’s launch is not only expected to contribute to the traffic at underused airports, such as the Felipe Angeles airport built by the army, but it also aligns with the president’s broader tourism initiatives, including the Maya Train project. The army is at the forefront of constructing the Maya Train, connecting beach resorts and archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

As Mexicana takes flight, it symbolizes a dual commitment to military involvement in diverse sectors and a revival of state-operated enterprises, encapsulating López Obrador’s vision for Mexico’s economic trajectory.

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