We have the data available, released by Mexico’s civil aviation authorities, and we can take a first glimpse at how the first quarter was in terms of passengers, flights, cargo, and overall operations. Financially, only Volaris has published its first quarter results. Let’s begin looking at Mexico’s civil aviation 1Q results in 2023.
Looking At Mexico’s 1Q Traffic Results In 2023
In the first quarter of 2023, Mexico received 29.03 million passengers. That’s an incredible 24% increase versus the same period last year when the country received 23.47 million passengers. If the trend continues throughout the year –a difficult task, most likely impossible– Mexico would close the year with close to 132 million passengers.
The most likely scenario is that the traffic growth between 2022 and 2023 will ease as the year goes by. This big difference in the first quarter is explained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year began slowly following a new wave of infections that rippled through the entire aviation ecosystem.
In the first quarter of 2023, Mexico had 14.64 million domestic passengers. The market was led by Volaris, which had 6.02 million passengers. Then Viva Aerobus with 4.3 million and Aeromexico with a little over 4.03 million. During this quarter, the Mexican aviation industry lost one player when Aeromar ceased operations after years of financial disarray.
Mexico’s domestic market grew by 23% compared to pre-pandemic traffic levels.
The international market
During the first three months of the year, Mexico had 14.38 million international passengers, of which 3.46 million were carried by Mexican airlines (led by Aeromexico with 1.60 million and Volaris with 1.36 million.
American Airlines closed the first quarter with the highest international traffic numbers in Mexico, carrying 2.06 million travelers. United Airlines had 1.41 million, and Delta Air Lines had 1.24 million.
Recovering the fleet
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mexican aviation industry lost the size of its fleet in 2020. This was partially due to Interjet’s collapse and Aeromexico’s Chapter 11. Nonetheless, the country recovered and has the largest commercial fleet ever, with 365 planes (before this, the largest number was in 2018, with 363). The average age of a Mexican commercial jetliner is 8.5 years old.
Aeromexico has the largest fleet size with 153 jets, followed by Volaris with 120 and Viva Aerobus with 70. The country’s most common aircraft is the Airbus A320neo, with 64 jets.
Mexico City International Airport was the largest airport in the country during the first quarter of the year. It had 11.67 million passengers, a 15.9% increase versus last year. Cancun International received 8.48 million passengers (a 20.5% growth).
Mexico City’s new Felipe Ángeles International Airport has not yet cracked the top ten largest airports in the country. This airport was inaugurated in 2022 and was set to ease the saturation levels at Mexico City International.
Volaris first quarter results
This week, Volaris released its first quarter financial results. The airline had a total operating revenue worth US$731 million (a 29% increase versus 2022). The company reported 8.18 million passengers (note the sharp difference from what the Mexican government reported, which was 7.39 million passengers overall), with an 85% load factor.
Volaris operating expenses were US$762 million, which led to a first quarter net loss of $71 million. The airline’s EBITDAR was $123 million, and its TRASM was 7.71 cents (a 9.5% increase versus last year).
Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.