Mexico’s biggest airline has stopped flying after the failure of a last-ditch bid to rescue it.
Mexicana suspended all operations almost a month after filing for US bankruptcy protection. It had been bought last week for a nominal fee by a group of local investors, who planned to make all cabin crew redundant and then rehire about a quarter of them. However, the cost-cutting plan couldn’t be agreed with the unions.
The group operated 69 aircraft under the Mexicana brand and 35 under the low-cost MexicanaClick, which it started in 2005. MexicanaLink, a separate unit which opened last year, had 15 planes.
Mexicana served more than a dozen routes to the United States, as well as flights to Latin America and Europe. Over the past couple of years, it’s lost market share to budget airlines, and the whole industry suffered when tourism dropped last year in the wake of the swine flu outbreak and the economic crisis. Reports about violence in Mexico have also continued to discourage travel.
by Andy Moreton
Plenty of other airlines have flights to Mexico’s resorts, and Luxique can help you book the best luxury hotels.
Some of the hotels on Mexico’s Caribbean coast have offered free vacations for three years to any tourist catching swine flu while on holiday there.
The flu outbreak in Mexico, from which 58 people have died, has sparked mass cancellations of bookings to one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
“The ‘flu-free guarantee’ assures three years of free holidays to travellers who present flu symptoms eight days after returning from their trip,” said Fernando Garcia, the director of one of the participating hotel groups.
The hotel owners are also sending letters to the American government - to be published in US newspapers - calling for a lifting of the alert against non-essential travel to Mexico.
The Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, has underlined that several top Mexican beach resorts, including Cozumel on the east coast and Puerto Vallarta on the west coast, haven’t registered any swine flu cases.
“Tourist destinations are safe in Mexico, people can return calmly, we are carrying out intensive checks,” said Mr Cordova.
The flu’s impact, including on tourism, was expected to cost Mexico’s economy around $2.3 billion (£1.5 billion).
by Andy Moreton
If you’re reassured by the Health Minister’s statement, Luxique can offer the best rates at luxury hotels in both Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta.
The swine flu outbreak in Mexico has caused the virtual collapse of the tourism industry there.
Many holidaymakers are cancelling their visits, cruise ships are making detours and hotels are down to an occupancy rate of less than 20 per cent. Major tourist resorts like Cancun are beginning to look like ghost towns. It’s estimated that Cancun lost $2.4 million (£1.6 million) of business in one week.
To try to woo tourists, some Cancun restaurants are offering two-for-one dinners, while handicraft stores have $1 specials on dolls and necklaces. “It’s imperative that our hotels have tourists,” said Rodrigo de la Pena, President of the Cancun Hotel Association. “We are in a serious economic crisis.”
Mexico’s tourism minister, Rodolfo Elizondo, said the blow to the industry would be “very strong”.
Tourism is one of the country’s top three sources of foreign income and analysts say it will take a strong and sustained push by the government, along with irresistible bargains, to revive it.
by Andy Moreton
Would-be travellers to Mexico have been anxiously contacting tour operators about whether they should cancel their holidays in view of the swine flu outbreak.
It’s thought that up to a hundred people may have died in the outbreak in Mexico. Cases have also been found in Canada, the United States and, on Monday, in Spain.
President Obama described the situation as “obviously a cause for concern that requires a heightened state of alert”, but added, “it is not a cause for alarm.”
Those who decide to continue with their travel plans are advised to steer clear of large crowds and to avoid shaking hands and using the subway. Holidaymakers arriving in London on flights from Mexico have been met by health officials and asked if they’d suffered any symptoms.
At the Mexico Tourist Board in London, Lupita Ayala said: “What we’ve told callers is that Mexico City, where this outbreak is, is a long way from Cancun [where many holidaymakers head]. People don’t realise the geography of the place. They don’t realise how great the distances involved are, and they’re reassured by that.”
The World Health Organisation has so far maintained that travel and trade restrictions are not necessary.
Mexico usually has about 20 million visitors a year, but the tourism industry was already suffering before this latest set-back. The world-wide recession and the much-publicised escalation of the war on drugs barons has resulted in a down-turn.
by Andy Moreton