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Mexicana Offers Unions a Stake in Holding Company

Grupo Mexicana de Aviacion SA, the controlling company of Mexico’s largest airline by passengers, offered a stake to its pilots and flight attendants in exchange for new labor terms.

Grupo Mexicana controls Compania Mexicana de Aviacion, which filed for bankruptcy last week in the U.S. and Mexico, and the low-cost carriers MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink. Compania Mexicana, which is one of Mexico’s two flagship carriers, has suspended ticket sales and reduced flights.

“Because of financial fragility and cash flow problems, time is a determining factor in the future of the company,” Mexicana said in an e-mailed statement on the stake offer.

Mexicana said it is inviting a group of “complementary investors” and that current stakeholders are willing to dilute their participation in the company. The pilots union is interested in buying a stake and would modify its contract to secure a deal, Fernando Perfecto, the group’s head, said in an interview yesterday. The flight attendants union didn’t immediately comment on the proposal.

Grupo Posadas SAB, based in Mexico City, bought Grupo Mexicana from the government in 2005. The airline wants to pare pilots’ and flight attendants’ pay to compete with low-cost carriers such as Volaris and Interjet that have grabbed 21 percent of the market in less than five years.

Talks between Grupo Mexicana and the pilots and flight attendants unions have progressed in the past 10 days, according to the statement.

Mexicana Routes

The pilots union has talked with at least three outside investors, Perfecto said yesterday. He didn’t name them.

Mexicana flies to more than 65 national and international destinations, including in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America. In 2009, it transported 6.86 million passengers, while MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink carried 4.25 million. As part of the Oneworld alliance, Mexicana also shares reservations and flights with carriers led by AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and British Airways Plc.

The U.S. case is Compania Mexicana De Aviacion SA de CV, 10-14182; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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