Following the loss of two DC-8s in 1966 Aeronaves De México would enter 1967 with just three of the type - all series 51s. XA-PIK had arrived in April 1964 whilst XA-SIA and SIB arrived between the two crashes - in October 1966. A fourth series 51, XA-SID, joined in early 1968 for the fleet to reach four for the first time. During the mid-1960s the airline had been building up its international network and this would continue into the second half of the decade albeit seemingly with little success. The Madrid service was extended to Rome on April 1, 1966 but this only lasted until January 1, 1967 as the economics didn't pay off (and no doubt the decreased fleet made it difficult to keep up too). Likewise services to Panama and Caracas were cut on March 20.
Though the newly christened Aeromexico would order a pair of DC-10-30s from McDonnell Douglas in June 1972, the first of which arrived in May 1974 this didn't mean the end for the DC-8s. Both of the DC-8-63s were returned to Trans International and subsequently saw roughly similar careers with conversion to series 73s, leases to Air Afrique, to sale to Flying Tigers, transfer to FedEx and then purchase by United Parcel Service. Both were only retired in 2010. That still left 5 DC-8-51s in the fleet by 1975 - the earlier four having been joined by XA-DOD, a leased ex-National Airlines airframe, in late 1973.
A further pair of DC-8-51s were leased in the late 1970s this time from FB Ayer. XA-DOE was in fact the first DC-8 built and upgraded to a series 51 she had seen a rather nomadic career with National, Delta, Trans International, CP Air and even Lufthansa. The second aircraft, XA-AMP, had led a more pedestrian existance entirely with Delta since 1964. These last two series 51s would serve only briefly as cover before the arrival of the airline's pair of new DC-10-15s.
Even as late as the mid-1980s there was still time for further DC-8s to join the fleet as in 1986 a trio of DC-8-62s arrived on lease from IAL. Two of these frames started their life with Braniff whilst the third was originally JA8033 with Japan Air Lines. By this time however Aeromexico was back in the red with an elderly fleet and years of mismanagement behind it. The airline had in fact made a loss every year between 1983 and 1987. By 1988 things were critical and in April it went bankrupt. Services were suspended for three months and the airline's remnants were partially privatised. This period of unrest signalled also a major fleet reduction, which included all 8 of the DC-8s (5 -51s, 3 -62s). By 1989 the new airline, now technically known as Aerovias de Mexico SA de CV, was in profit and on its way to finnacial strength again.
Not all the DC-8s would see further service. XA-DOD was retired and used as a children’s playground, then a fire trainer and finally broken up in June 2008. XA-SIA would fly on in Venezuela with Zuliana until 1999. XA-SIB and SID would fly with several airlines as N507DC and N508DC respectively until 2000 and 2001. Lastly XA-PIK would end her days in Colombia as HK-3816X being broken up in 2001. The three DC-8-62s would also serve on with one still in service into 2013 as 9Q-CJL with Transair Cargo. Following its uneven start Aeronaves De México got good service from its trusty Eights and their value can be seen by their longevity in service with its successor airline Aeromexico and subsequent carriers.
Airplane Issue 202: Civil Aviation - Aeromexico
Airline Timetable Images
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: