MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Struggling Mexican airline Interjet was suspended on Wednesday from the clearing house membership of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for failing to keep up with payments.
The news stirred renewed concern about the future of the privately-owned carrier, which has rejected over the past few months a string of media reports suggesting that it has been laboring to meet financial obligations.
In a letter dated Wednesday, the Airlines Clearing House (ACH) said the membership of ABC Aerolineas S.A. de C.V., which operates under the name Interjet, was suspended with “immediate effect” due to the “non-payment of a clearance balance”.
In a statement, Interjet said it had taken the decision to opt out of the IATA clearing house temporarily but aimed to rejoin the body once it had resolved an outstanding payment issue with a service provider.
It would not be correct to suggest that Interjet did not have the means to continue operating, added the company, which is one of Mexico’s three principal airlines.
Interjet and its domestic rivals have been hit by a slump in demand during the coronavirus outbreak, and last week had one of its premises sealed off by tax authorities in Mexico.
A few hours after the IATA announcement, Mexico’s federal consumer protection agency Profeco questioned whether Interjet had the means to continue meeting various obligations.
In a statement, Profeco said it had asked Interjet to show how the airline was protecting the rights of consumers following changes it made to flight schedules for April and May.
In response, Interjet said it had made 186,577 refunds to passengers by March 31 in the form of vouchers of equivalent value for new flights and valid for a year, Profeco said.
But given the lack of backup evidence, Interjet’s assertion could “constitute an act of simulation”, the agency added, saying the company was failing to provide “certainty, fairness or legal certainty to consumers.”
Mexico’s government in November offered to mediate in a simmering financial dispute between Interjet and broadcaster Televisa.
Interjet has a portfolio of more than 50 routes in Mexico and abroad.
Reporting by Noe Torres and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Grant McCool and Clarence Fernandez