MEXICO CITY, Dec. 3 (Reuters) – Mexican budget airline Interjet plans to resume flights in 2022 with 10 leased Airbus SE jets after closing its doors a year ago when its already struggling finances were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, company officials said on Friday.
The pandemic’s toll on the global tourism industry had exacerbated Interjet’s operating and debt problems, putting the company on the brink of bankruptcy.
“The plan is to restart operations with 10 Airbus 320 (aircraft),” said Luis Bertrand, the newly appointed managing director, said in an interview, adding that the company “is alive, is viable, and we will go from the front. “
Interjet must first conclude negotiations with creditors through a legal process slowed down by a strike by the airline’s union, comprising 5,000 employees, which began in January.
Ivan Romo, managing partner of SOELI Consulting, the company that manages the restructuring of Interjet, said the company is working with creditors to reach agreements that can be formalized once legal proceedings are initiated.
Romo said the goal is to “start over in the coming year”, aiming for a discount of between 90% and 99% per creditor.
Interjet is preparing to lease the Airbus planes, six of which are scheduled to depart from Mexico City, two from Toluca and two from the partially constructed Santa Lucia Airport, just outside Mexico City.
Bertrand, who previously ran Toluca International Airport near Mexico City, said work was advancing to restart operations as financial, legal and social negotiations were underway. Part of that includes a plan to return 22 Sukhoi planes to Sukhoi in exchange for the cancellation of 6.3 billion pesos ($ 296.28 million) in debt, Bertrand said.
“We have already signed the respective agreements so that they can start rehabilitating these planes again,” said Bertrand.
($ 1 = 21.2640 Mexican pesos)
(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Will Dunham)