Mexicana de Aviacionâ€™s fate may be decided in the next few weeks after a judge gave the bankrupt carrier until Nov. 15 to avoid liquidation.
The airline has been grounded since it filed for the Mexican equivalent of Chapter 11 protection in August 2010, although its revival has been promised by a plethora of suitors that until now have been unable, or unwilling, to deposit the $250 million deemed necessary to return Mexicana to the air.
These unrealized promises have kept the airline under the protection of a Mexican bankruptcy court, which as recently as August suspended a liquidation deadline so the airline could consider three bids. But none of these bids proved fruitful, so on Oct. 28 a bankruptcy judge reinstated a deadline that gives Mexicana until Nov. 15 to finalize a takeover or face liquidation.
At least one additional bid, from a consortium called Med Atlantica, is under consideration, and Mexicana owner Tenedora K has formally established a trust to facilitate the takeover, a source close to the airline tells Aviation Week. Legal difficulties associated with Mexicoâ€™s trust laws apparently hindered the completion of the takeover last week, but a $250 million transfer is now expected to be finalized this week.
This is not the first time Mexicana has been this close to a deal, and there still is doubt that Med Atlanticaâ€™s investment will transpire. There are other potential offers, with previous bidders talking about a combined bid and at least one family-owned company rumored to be formalizing a new rescue plan; and there is still the possibility the bankruptcy court could again stay Mexicanaâ€™s demise.
But liquidation is a possibility, and Aeromexico is preparing to benefit from its former rivalâ€™s collapse. Liquidation will force the sale of all Mexicanaâ€™s assets, which in essence means the carrierâ€™s MRO division, and such an acquisition will immediately launch Aeromexicoâ€™s maintenance operation as the regionâ€™s largest.
Becoming the regionâ€™s biggest maintenance provider is a primary goal for Aeromexico and, which are now finalizing details on the MRO joint venture unveiled in August. Buying Mexicana MRO in its entirety would enable the joint venture to add a second facility in Guadalajara to the Aeromexico base already scheduled for expansion by the JV and provide the venture with a major operation in Mexico City.
When asked about Mexicana MRO during his companyâ€™s third-quarter results conference call, Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa admitted that while there are many uncertainties with Mexicanaâ€™s bankruptcy, he â€śwould be very interestedâ€ť in assuming control if the MRO division is offered for sale.