Safety Violations Ground Most Of Aviacsa

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Melanie Reffes melR6@hotmail.com

Mexico has temporarily grounded almost all of Aviacsa Airlines' aircraft after officials reported irregularities in the maintenance of 25 of them.

A statement issued by the Mexican Communications and Transport Ministry today said the irregularities could endanger air safety, cargo and passengers. The ministry added the suspension applies to 25 planes, and "doesn't imply the total suspension of its operations." However, Aviacsa has only 26 planes in its fleet, all Boeing 737s serving 17 Mexican cities and Las Vegas.

Airlines in Mexico have been enduring particularly tough times affected first by soaring fuel prices, then by the recession that curtailed air travel, and more recently by the influenza outbreak that impacted significantly on international travel to Mexico.

Last year the Mexican government grounded several regional airlines for non-payment of fees. However, the ministry said this most recent suspension of Aviacsa is not related to the ongoing legal dispute between the airline and the government over payment of fees for the use of Mexican airspace. The government maintains the current problems put passengers at risk.

Aviacsa has issued a statement denying any safety problems and accusing officials of violating a court order by grounding the planes.

Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASR), which manages the airports in Mexico, said the regional airline accounted for 5% of its total passenger traffic in the past 12 months.

The Transportation and Communications Ministry has given Aviacsa 60 days to fix the problems.

Photo credit: Aviacsa

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