Mexicana (or Mexicana de Aviacion), is Mexico's second largest airline company, after Aeromexico, and the world's third oldest airline still using its original name, after KLM and Colombia's Avianca. The airline uses the IATA designator MX.
Mexicana was founded July 12 1921, under the name Compania Mexicana De Transportacion Aerea, (CMTA) as a money carrier to oil fields near the city of Tampico, on the gulf of Mexico. Mexicana's first plane was a Lincoln standard, a two-seat biplane. While the pilot manouvered over the oil fields, the passenger in the back seat dropped a heavy bag containing the weekly payment for the oilers
The 1920s were groundbreaking times for the airline, with air mail service being established and services like aerial photography being undertaken. In 1929, Pan Am took over the majority of the airline's stock, and the airline opened its first international route, with service to the United States. Mexicana used the historic Ford Tri-Motor plane for the route flown from Mexico City to Brownsville, Texas, with stops at Tuxpan and Tampico. Mexicana's first pilot was none other than the legendary Charles Lindbergh himself.
The 1930s saw route expansion and service improvement. Mexicana opened a route from Brownsville to Guatemala City, stopping over at Veracruz, Minatitlan, Iztepec and Tapachula. In addition to that, flights were started to El Salvador, Costa Rica and Cuba, and the association with Pan Am gave them access to Nicaragua and Panama too, through Pan Am's Miami base. (Pan Am had undertaken flights from Mexico City to Miami). Mexicana also became then the first international airline ever to fly to Los Angeles.
The 1940s were more of a domestic growth period, although a service was established from Mexico City to Havana. Routes were opened for the first time to Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, and Merida, Yucatan, as well as a night flight to Los Angeles, California. The Merida flights were also flown at night. Mexicana initially used DC-2's for these flights, but as time went by, DC-3's were acquired, and later, DC-4's. The DC-3's became known as El Palacio Aereo. (The Air Palace). The DC-4 allowed for Mexicana to fly non-stop from Mexico City to Los Angeles for the first time. Mexicana was also able to create a certified pilots school in Mexico City.
The 1950s saw the airline's growth slow a little, but DC-6's were welcomed to the fleet, and a flight attendant school was opened. The DC-6's were put to work on the Mexico City-Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City-Oaxaca routes.
The 1960s was a decade that shook the world and sent it spiralling upside down, and Mexicana De Aviacion was no exception. 4 De Havilland Comets were bought and flown over from London and Mexicana entered the jet age on July 4, 1960, since Mexicana was still part of Pan Am, these Comets were intended to replace Boeing 707s should this type won't fulfill the expectations of Pan Am's owner, Juan Trippe. Competition grew stiff, however, and Mexicana shook like a jet facing turbulence. By the late 1960s the airline was almost forced into bankruptcy. But in 1967, Mexicana received its first Boeing 727, and along with a new administration and strategic plans, the airline was able to begin to fly high again soon after.
In 1968, the stock owned by Pan Am was entirely bought over and Mexicana became once again a 100-percent Mexican company.
1969 was a tragic year for Mexicana, for it lost two 727's in the same number of air crashes.
In 1971, Mexicana started flights to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a route it would maintain for more than 25 years without interruption, and to Denver, Colorado. The jet fleet kept expanding and eventually they had 19 jets, the largest jet fleet in Latin America at the time. They also started a flight simulator service with a 727 simulator at their hub in Benito Juarez International Airport. The Denver route stopped over at Mazatlan. By this time Mexicana had the largest fleet of 727's outside the USA.
The 1980s for Mexicana were almost inactive, however, a few events touched the company: In 1981, 3 DC-10-15's were received and began making their way through the airline's Caribbean routes. In 1982, the Mexican government acquired 54 percent of the airline. In 1984, a huge building with Mexicana's central offices as well as a tower of control that was 30 stories high and a heliport was unveiled near the Benito Juarez airport's installations, and in March 1986, tragedy struck, as a Mexicana Boeing 727 en route to Puerto Vallarta suddenly caught fire and crashed onto the mountains of western Mexico, killing every passenger and crew member on the flight. This has been the last accident a Mexicana Aircraft has ever had.
For Mexicana, the 1990s kept bringing changes. Once again, it was 'married' to Aeromexico, when the Falcon Group was formed, and with this, it became 100 percent private again. French Airbus A320's came to the airline, as well as Boeing 757's and Fokker 100's. Mexicana launched a website (www.Mexicana.com), and formed an alliance with United Airlines. It also had the honor of transporting The Pope John Paul II when his Holiness flew from Mexico City to St. Louis, Missouri, and formed alliances with Air Canada, Varig and Air New Zealand. It also began a program to assist families of people involved in air disasters.
Mexicana would later obtain a certificate to operate maintenance jobs on the new European planes on their fleet.
April 28, 2003, a Mexicana de Aviacion Airbus jet was forced to land at San Francisco International Airport after the pilot had accidentally set off the airplane's anti-terrorism alarm.
Mexicana's livery consists of an all white fuselage, with the word Mexicana written in italics under the passenger windows, near the plane's cockpit. The tail colors are dark blue aztec pattern on medium green background and the mexicana eagle head logo in white.
Other facts of interest