ROUTES AMERICAS: Industry Interview - Fabricio Cojuc Wolfowitz, EVP, Chief Planning & Commercial Officer, Aeromar

FROM THE LATEST ISSUE OF ROUTES NEWS: Our sister publication speaks to Fabricio Cojuc Wolfowitz, the executive vice president, chief planning & commercial officer at Aeromar, based in Mexico City.

What has Aeromar achieved in the Mexican market?
Of the Mexican airlines in service, Aeromar holds the oldest Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). It is a testament to the resiliency of a smaller company which, despite the many crises the country and its airline industry has endured over the decades, is now in its 27th year of uninterrupted operations. Today we are a stand-alone carrier operating our own extensive network.

What are your plans for the network in 2014?
Given the recent implementation of strict slot controls at Mexico City airport, our main objective is to execute a consistent schedule that ensures our nearly 100 daily operations are not affected by the new policies. We are also aiming to add at least a couple of new destinations during the first half of 2014 and to increase frequencies in our main markets.

How has your route network changed?
Aeromar has become a sustainable, commercially independent airline, after many years of operating as a capacity provider and feeder for larger partner carriers. In the past, network and capacity deployment was mainly dictated by the needs of partners – today, our network has become more concentrated around the Mexico City hub, with a focus on building frequency in existing markets and expanding selectively.

Do you plan to expand in the US?
Absolutely. Our US incursion began in 2013 with the addition of untapped Mexico City–McAllen (March), Mexico City–Austin (October) and San Luis Potosí–McAllen (November) services. Results have been better than initially expected, and we are seriously looking at adding a new Texas gateway by mid-2014, while also adding frequency to existing Austin and McAllen services.

How has the Mexican airline market performed in the past year?
If you look at the demand numbers for the market as a whole, the growth in RPMs is impressive and reaching record numbers. However, yields have taken a toll as capacity increases have forced most airlines to implement aggressive discount pricing strategies. For us, passenger growth was moderate; however, our revenue metrics have kept improving and this is by far our key performance indicator.

What are the biggest challenges in the Mexican airline market?
Oversupply – there is too much metal coming in over the next few years and this will take a toll on profitability industry-wide, as I don’t believe demand can keep up with the pace of capacity increases.

What are your future fleet plans?
In 2013 we took delivery of three aircraft – two new ATR 72-600s leased from ALC and we purchased one CRJ-200, bringing our fleet to 19 regional aircraft (16 ATRs and three CRJs). We expect to remain at or near this fleet size in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, our oldest ATR 42s will be due for replacement and it is likely we will substitute them with new ATR 72-600s. We might also add a couple more CRJ-200s along the way, depending on how traffic evolves.

Why did you first get into the aviation industry?
I figured out I wanted to be involved in the airline industry when I was about 10 years old. I was exposed to travelling, airports and aircraft from a very early age through my father’s frequent travels. As a kid, I started to read the big OAG and ABC books my father used to bring home, on loan from a friend’s travel agency, and as a teenager, I used to get the pocket editions as birthday presents.

What is the best thing about working in the industry?
The most interesting thing is the fragility of the status quo – the amount of variables that come into play and that can affect the business. This means you constantly have to be on your toes. When you think you have seen it all, there is always a new hurdle that comes along to test you.

If you didn’t work in aviation, what would you be doing?
Looking for a job in aviation!              

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