Aviacsa was actually formed as Aviaxsa S.A. de C.V. in 1990 following the 1988 deregulation of Mexican aviation, which allowed for the first time new private airlines to openly compete. Its founder was Luis de Pau a former President of the pension fund of the pilot union APSA. Initially the carrier had a focus on connecting the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas with other regional centres and it directly replaced the debt-ridden state run airline Aviación de Chiapas, which had collapsed in 1989 following a fatal accident.
Aviaxsa was 40% owned by the state government with de Pau and the former governor of Chiapas being the largest private shareholders. Operations began with a leased, ex-Presidential Airlines, BAE 146-200 connecting the capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, with Mexico City. A second 146-200 arrived in January 1991 and a third (this time a series 100) in December. By then services had expanded to southeastern cities like Mérida and Oaxaca, plus resort destinations Cancún and Tapachula. Charter services reached as far as Florida and Cuba.
Both promptly fled the country. Somehow the airline continued to grow despite the repossession of the BAE 146s for non-payment of lease fees. In their place four new Fokker 100s were leased and the airline expanded in 1992 to include the Northern cities of Monterrey and Ciudad Juárez. Expansion in the South included Villahermosa and Chetumel, plus an international route to Guatemala City.
This first incarnation of Aviacsa came to an end in 1994 when the airline was purchased by Monterrey based Transportes Aereos Ejecutivos, S.A. de C.V. (Aeroexo). The owners of Aeroexo, which was mainly a charter airline, had ties to Monterrey’s powerful Lobo family and thus access to politicians. Initially Aviacsa remained focused on its southern homeland providing connections from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutiérrez (6 times a day) and Tapachula (twice daily). A network of other flights were served from Mexico City to places like Chetumal, Oaxaca, and Villahermosa.
These routes primarily served the business community but services from Cancun also connected tourists with southern cities providing access to ancient Mayan ruins and highland communities. Nonetheless Aeroexo’s influence began to change the character of the small airline. Aeroexo operated Boeing 727s and made an $80 million purchase of 727s at the end of 1994. Eight of these aircraft would come to serve with Aviacsa and all were ex-Trans Australian 727-276 Advanceds. In addition a pair of older 727-31s was also leased from Aeroexo.
This expansion was ill-timed as in 1994 the Mexican economy collapsed and the Peso was devalued. Suddenly all the airlines were struggling including Aviacsa’s parent. Once again corruption reared its head as the company in debt to the tune of $100 million lost its chairman, Alejando Morales, who was wanted by the government on charges of embezzlement and fraudulent bank loans. He fled to Houston. His partner Eduardo Morales remained and Aviacsa continued.
In fact Aviacsa seems to have actually benefitted from the recession as it almost crippled all the competition. Mexicana and Aeroméxico both had to be re-nationalised, whilst TAESA (Mexico’s third airline) never recovered. Aviacsa actually gained passengers in 1995 and only had a decline in 1997 of the years up to the new century.
Timetable images from the usual excellent timetableimages.com
The Fokker 100s were returned in 1995/96 but a pair of DC-9-15s was added in 1997, along with a few more 727s. This did make the fleet quite old however, which would be a feature of the Aviacsa fleet in the coming years and a symptom of its eventual demise. Towards the end of 1999 the airline began to add a new type in the fleet – the Boeing 737. Once again these were however the older series 200, mostly acquired from the fleets of Air New Zealand and US Airways. Along with the series 200s came a new mainly white livery and the addition of a PSA style smile to the underside of the aircraft nose.
By the end of 2000 Aviacsa was operating a wide network within Mexico as well as to Houston and Las Vegas in the USA. That year 1.38 million passengers were flown. The failure of TAESA in early 2000 left Aviacsa comfortably as Mexico’s third largest airline and its largest private carrier. The fleet stood at the end of the year as around 7 727-200s, 6 737-200s and 2 DC-9-15s.
The future looked bright for Aviacsa and indeed it was for several years. In part 2 we’ll investigate how they fared during the 2000s.
For part 2 of this series see:
Aviacsa Pt2: Pakal Falls
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: