MIAMI – Interjet (4O) announced that it would be suspending flights for November 1 and 2. All passengers would be accommodated onto flights leaving today, November 3. The airline gave no explanation to travelers, other than the fact that almost 50 flights were canceled.
Sunday and Monday were holidays in Mexico to celebrate Día de Los Muertos, as known as the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the rest of the world. However, the cancelation was not due to the holiday at all.
Mexican national media reports stated that this was due to 4O not paying for the fuel going in the aircraft. The airline prepays its fuel bill through Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares, a Mexican government-owned aircraft management company. They also provide fueling for most of Mexico’s airports, including all that Interjet currently serve.
Financial difficulties are no stranger to 4O. El Servicio de Administración Tributaria (Tax Administrative Service of Mexico) has urged passengers to not fly on 4O anymore, citing the fact that it has not paid its income taxes for a few years. Today, 4O employees are going on strike at Mexico City’s Terminal 1. They are bringing awareness to the fact that they haven’t been paid for two months.
Interjet has been collecting debts for a few years, and it owes money to many parties. The airline currently has over US$55m in debts. Almost half of it is to the United States’ Customs and Border Protection Agency for handling its flights to the US.
Without this debt paid, 4O will not be able to fly over Mexico’s northern border. Even the CEO has had his Mexico City house and vehicles seized by the government.
A Dwindling Fleet
Of Interjet’s fleet of 95 aircraft, only six are currently flying. All of their Airbus aircraft have been parked or returned to the lessor, some even through the repossession process.
The only aircraft still flying is now the Sukhoi SSJ-100. Prior to the financial trouble, 4O actually expected to remove the SSJ from their fleet, citing high complexity and costs as well as low reliability with these Russian-made jets. Now, it is the only aircraft that the airline can operate.
So far, investors have given them an influx of cash, and it has allowed them to continue to operate for the past few months.
At its heyday, 4O was one of, if not the most well-liked airlines in Mexico. It offered low-cost pricing with free snacks and large drinks. It even formed a partnership with American Airlines (AA) for regional flights from Mexico City.
However, its financial troubles and decreased traveler numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has likely marked the end of the airline. With any luck, it can obtain more capital, either from the private sector or government and pull themselves out of the large hole it have dug.