Mexico president says Army is working to create state-run airline

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

MEXICO CITY, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday said the Army is working on a proposal to create its own commercial airline, confirming reports from a leak of government documents last week.

"An analysis of its economic viability is being carried out," Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference, noting that a decision had yet to be made.

"It's likely that this new airline will be (in operation) next year," he said.

The president confirmed last week that Mexico's military had suffered a major data hack, revealing sensitive information including communications regarding the president's health, customs security and infrastructure projects.

Lopez Obrador said Olmeca-Maya-Mexica, a military-run business set to take charge of a handful of airports and the multibillion-dollar "Mayan Train" project being built in the south of the country, would also run the proposed airline.

He said he was shown the initial proposal for the airline about two weeks ago.

"The presidential plane is also being considered, to hand it over to the business, which will have 10 planes in its fleet which won't be bought, rather rented," Lopez Obrador said.

The president had for more than three years tried to sell the presidential plane his predecessor purchased, but struggled to find a buyer willing to pay its $130 million price tag.

According to local newspaper El Universal, the leaked documents show that the armed forces were considering circumventing a law prohibiting companies from running an airport and airline at the same time by tweaking regulations without going through Congress.

Lopez Obrador did not address the legality of the proposal on Tuesday.

According to leaks database Distributed Denial of Secrets, the so-called "Guacamaya Leaks" total some six terabytes, more than double the size of the Panama Papers leak.

Reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by Daina Beth Solomon and Mark Porter

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