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Report: Tourism Industry Responds to Mexicana Bankruptcy

August 12, 2010 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent

One of the busiest foreign carriers, Mexicana Airlines, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York City earlier this month and several tourism industry representatives weighed in to Travel Agent on the impact the move will have on business to Mexico.

"Travel Impressions has seen very little impact on business to Mexico as a result of the situation with Mexicana,” says Sallie Rawlings, senior director of corporate communications for Travel Impressions. “We are working with our agents to ensure that any of our passengers who were ticketed on Mexicana flights that were suspended are being booked with other carriers. Travelers who had their tickets prior to the airline filing Chapter 15 will be traveling on Mexicana as long as their routes have not been affected.

“We are currently handling new bookings through other air carriers,” Rawlings added. “Mexicana has always been one of Travel Impressions strongest partners to Mexico and we stand ready to work with them once they finish their reorganization."

Travel agent Marianne Braly, a Mexican specialist for Now Voyager Travel in Huntington Beach, CA, however, says the move has had, and will continue to have, a strong impact on her business.

“We had clients booked on Mexicana flights from LAX to Cabo over the weekend,” says Braly. “The flights ultimately took off, but my clients decided to cancel as they were fearful they might get stuck in Cabo and not able to get home.

“Without Mexicana, there is now only one nonstop flight, LAX to PVR (Puerto Vallarta) on Alaska Airlines, so this is going to have a huge effect on Mexico travel for our agency,” added Braly. “LAX to Cancun has a similar problem.”

The announcement came one day after the airline suspended more than 30 flights in Mexico and across the U.S. The Mexico City-based airline promised to contact passengers with tickets on canceled flights for a refund or to rebook them on another Mexicana flight or with another carrier.

Funjet Vacations is currently not accepting new bookings on Mexicana Airlines because their ticketing has been suspended. Current Funjet Vacations customers will remain booked on a Mexicana Airlines scheduled air flight or Funjet's Chicago O'Hare to Cancun Value Flights. The operator also continues to offer vacation packages to Cancun from Chicago and other U.S. origin cities on a variety of other scheduled air carriers.

“If there is a disruption of service with Mexicana Airlines, Funjet will work with our customers to find alternate service and preserve our mutual clients' vacation investments, although the customer would be responsible for any increase in price for alternate service options,” according to a statement sent to us by Funjet. “Clients could also cancel their vacation if they choose to at that time.”

Classic Vacations will contact all agents with affected bookings to assist with customer service. All un-ticketed passengers will have the full value of their original airfare applied toward new flights booked through Classic, without penalty. Customers are subject to any increase in the new airfare.

For ticketed passengers who purchased the Classic Travel Smart Plan or the Classic Waiver with their original booking, Classic Vacations will apply the value of the original Mexicana Airlines ticket toward the purchase of a new flight through Classic.

Mark Noennig, general manager/vice president of Apple Vacations, told Travel Agent that Apple has not seen an impact on overall business to Mexico.

“A lot of people are still going there and continuing on their new itinerary and are looking for new options,” he says. “I think there is still a lot of inventory especially in the fall and as you go into the peak season. We will have to wait and see.”

Braly, however, is not as optimistic.

“With the holidays coming up, Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is going to be half the air lift as normal without Mexicana,” says Braly. “Will Aero Mexico pick up some of the slack? Or one of the American carriers? Who knows?”

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