Airbus already dominates more than 70% of Mexico’s aviation market, but the company is predicting that a surge in demand will justify the introduction of 600 new aircraft before 2033. The aviation magnate, Rafael Alonso, the President of Airbus for Latin America and the Caribbean, is predicting that demand will reach 2,300 units in Latin America, a quarter of which is accounted for by Mexico.
Airbus took off in the region in 1998, winning a contract with Taca, TAM and LAN in Florida, US over their main competitor, Boeing. These negotiations secured the sale of 100 aircraft and “put Airbus on the route map” in the region, according to Alonso, an immeasurably important step toward their dominating the aircraft sales. Their strategy to reach this colossal number is motivated by a hunger to reach the top and remain leaders of the market (and most importantly, top Boeing at every opportunity). The largest hit to the industry and to Airbus in recent years resulted from Mexicana exiting the market, along with its affiliates Click and Link in 2014. Airbus maintained its position as provider of half the airplanes operating in Mexico, but this exit removed 60 of their airplanes from operations.
Interjet is the largest company, along with VivaAerobus and Volaris, who are the principal buyers in Mexico, and account for US$20.4 billion in sales for the French OEM. Their purchases, primarily of A320s, highlight the northernmost country in Latin America as offering intriguing potential for growth. Airbus estimates that Mexico has the potential to double its air transportation of international passengers, since Mexican airlines only transport 20% of these travelers to date. Furthermore, the development of the capital city’s brand new airport, projected to begin operating in 2018-2020 for private and commercial aircraft respectively, is another sign that the market is growing and will continue to do so. The government has managed to secure an impressive 70% financing of the US$13 million estimated cost of the project from the private sector. Airbus, understandably, wants to get its teeth into this market potential as soon as possible to consolidate their position. The President of Airbus Latin America and the Caribean has already identified AeroUnión as potentially important clients in the future in the cargo segment. They already own four A300s and are growing in line with the industry.
The most interesting expansion goal currently being discussed by the key industry players is the introduction of an A380 in Mexico, the largest passenger aircraft in the world. AirFrance have pipped other airlines to the post, having already begun operating this model in Mexico. The A380 can carry 853 passengers and today is being used across 40 cities globally. To support this new introduction, Airbus is in the process of opening two training center for pilots in Mexico targeted at the main national operators, one in the capital city and a second in the aerospace cluster in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. This venture indicates the upcoming training of 1,200 pilots, and will be the first of its kind by Airbus in Mexico, building on success in the US, Singapore and China with similar training centers.
The manufacturer intends to further expand production as well. 60% of the company’s electromechanics are made in Mexico, while Airbus Helicopters’ plant in Queretaro contributes with the development of A320 doors. The next step on the agenda is to increase the proportion of complete aircrafts produced locally, while moving operational infrastructure as close as possible to the new airport in Mexico City.