May 21, 2018 / 10:45 PM / 6 months ago

Mexico suspends Damojh's airline operations after Cuba crash

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s civil aviation authority said on Monday it will temporarily suspend operations of Aerolineas Damojh while it reviews the Mexican airline service company after one of its planes crashed in Cuba last week, killing 110 people.

The authority said it aims to make sure the company is adhering to regulations and gather information to help the ongoing investigation into the causes of the accident.

The fiery crash of the aging Boeing passenger jet shortly after takeoff from Havana on Friday killed all but three of the 113 people on board, making it Cuba’s deadliest air disaster in nearly 30 years.

Operations at the little-known company, which had owned three 737s before the crash, were suspended twice before during regulatory compliance reviews, the authority said.

It first halted operations for about a month in 2010, after a Damojh plane made an emergency landing in the Mexican beach resort of Puerto Vallarta due to a problem with its landing gear.

The authority performed another investigation in 2013 after receiving a complaint from Marco Aurelio Hernandez, who has been identified by Mexican media as a former Damojh pilot. Hernandez was quoted at the weekend by Mexican newspapers criticizing Damojh for its safety record.

That probe led to a suspension for about two months.

Separately, Damojh has been subject to annual reviews, most recently in November 2017, the aviation authority said. The company has also renewed its airworthiness certificates every two years, most recently in October 2017, it added.

Cuban investigators have so far recovered the cockpit voice recorder and were still looking for the flight data recorder.

Friday’s crash was the worst in Cuba since a Soviet-built Ilyushin-62M passenger plane came down near Havana in 1989 killing all 126 people on board and another 14 on the ground.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, editing by G Crosse

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