The Mexican aviation industry has launched a full-scale campaign against the legislative reform that allowed would be coastal flights, allowing foreign airlines to operate domestic flights in the country. Four unions, including pilot and flight attendant syndicates, three colleges and several trade unions have said that cabotage will jeopardize the future of the industry, professional development and jobs.
Mexico's Andres Manuel López Obrador has introduced a legislative reform allowing foreign airlines access to the domestic market. This reform would allow the “eighth and ninth freedoms” air traffic as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO. They concern “consecutive” and “autonomous” cabotage.
Humberto Gual Ángeles, General Secretary of the Mexican Association of Pilots-Aviators Union ASPA, believes that the Mexican government is seeking to introduce cabotage for two main reasons. “Firstly, to make tickets more accessible to the public, and secondly, to expand the activities of the new Felipe Angeles International Airport in Mexico City to a number of small regions of the country.” would not solve any of these problems and would only cripple the Mexican aviation industry, jeopardizing thousands of jobs and the future of local carriers.
Mr. Gual Angeles noted that cabotage would not make travel more affordable. Tariffs will be reduced only if there is a system of state subsidies. The fact is that taxes in Mexico are quite high, especially the tax on the use of airports.
The idea that allowing cabotage flights will increase activity at Felipe Angeles International Airport is also misleading, continues Gual Angeles. If the government wants to improve the growth of this airport, which opened on March 21 last year, it needs a Category 1 return from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Only after that airlines will be able to launch flights from this airport to the US — Mexico's largest commercial partner.
The Mexican aviation industry “strongly opposes the erroneous cabotage legalization initiative, which is an unfair transfer of our air territory to foreign interests that causes mortal harm to Mexican companies.”
Cabotage is divided into two types: sequential and autonomous. None of the options has been adopted worldwide, and only a few countries allow “foreign airlines” to fly. fly freely within its own territory, such as the countries of the European Union and Chile.
Sequential cabotage allows a foreign airline to operate domestic flights in another country as long as the final destination is the home base of the specified airlines. This is how American Airlines flies between Mexico City International Airport and Monterrey International Airport en route to Dallas.
Autonomous cabotage, on the other hand, allows a foreign airline to operate domestic flights exclusively in the territory of a third country. All EU countries are allowed by default to fly to any destination within the EU.
«Through cabotage, which will be allowed to foreign airlines, regional routes will be expanded, passengers will have more options for connecting flights, and air traffic will become better and efficient at the lowest cost,” say Mexican officials.