Mexicana airline not shopping in battered sector


MEXICO CITY – Mexican airline Mexicana de Aviacion is not shopping for acquisitions, the company’s chief said on Wednesday, despite expectations the slumping economy will lead to consolidation in the battered industry.

As many as 7 percent fewer Mexicans will travel by air this year because of the economic downturn, Mexicana chief executive Manuel Borja told reporters.

After several low-cost airlines started up in recent years, heavy competition, high fuel prices and sluggish economic growth have forced five carriers out of business and the government has said mergers in the sector are welcome.

“We are not acquiring any other airline,” Borja said, when asked if Mexicana was interested in acquisitions.

Mexicana, about 30 percent-owned by hotel operator Posadas (POSADASA.MX), and Aeromexico, controlled by investors including Citigroup (C.N), are Mexico’s two largest airlines and the local media has speculated they could merge to reduce costs.

Passenger traffic in Mexico steadily fell from January last year through September, according to the most recent data available from the government. Mexicana’s traffic has fallen faster than the industry average, according to the data.

Mexicana and other Mexican airlines do not publicize their financial results and Borja declined to give an outlook for 2009 sales.