Aeroméxico has hit back at the federal government after it was accused of causing delays at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM).
The head of the consumer protection agency Profeco said Monday that the flag carrier was the subject of the majority of complaints due to flight cancellations and delays this summer.
“The Mexico City airport is where most complaints have been filed,” Ricardo Sheffield told President López Obrador’s regular news conference.
He said that Aeroméxico “loves to blame” the airport and the federal government for its delays, but “the reality” is that they are often caused by staffing problems. Sheffield asserted that it has been “very common” for the airline to have incomplete flight crews.
“When a flight attendant is missing in the morning they have to wait for some time to replace him or her and that has caused a large number of delays,” he said.
The Profeco chief said that the “rumor in the airport corridors” is that Aeroméxico employees “very much like” to call in sick.
“They probably have COVID … but with just one person absent the flight doesn’t leave, they have to look for someone to replace the flight attendant,” Sheffield said, adding that members of the cabin crew were most prone to absenteeism.
He stressed that Aeroméxico has been the airline most affected by the issue and asserted that it has been most prevalent at the AICM, where delays at the baggage carousel and in immigration and taxi queues have also been reported recently.
Aeroméxico responded to Sheffield’s claims in a statement, saying that it has been the most punctual airline at the AICM this summer. The airline said that 81.3% of its departures and 78.8% of its arrivals have been on time since the start of July.
“These results are four percentage points above the general average of that airport, and 13 percentage points above the other two main operators,” Aeroméxico said in reference to Volaris and VivaAerobús. It also said that 99.9% of its scheduled flights have gone ahead since the start of last month and that it has only received one complaint for every 20,000 passengers.
José Humberto Gual Ángeles, general secretary of the Association of Air Pilots of Mexico, rejected Sheffield’s claim about high levels of absenteeism among Aeroméxico workers.
“We don’t have data from the grapevine, we have hard, truthful data that [the airline] doesn’t have absenteeism at the levels they assert. We’ve had outbreaks of COVID-19 among crews but that’s an issue” that has affected all airlines, he said.
The ASSA flight attendants union made similar remarks, saying that it categorically rejected that its Aeroméxico-affiliated members were responsible for delays at the AICM this summer vacation period. Aeroméxico flight attendants report to work on time “in accordance with the operational requirements of the company,” it said.
Despite the pushback, Sheffield renewed his criticism of the national flag carrier on Monday afternoon. “For a second consecutive year @Aeroméxico ranks first for complaints filed with @Profeco in the area of cancellations and delays,” he wrote on Twitter.
“In 2021 there were 488 and this year there have been 498. They’ve implemented the practice of putting passengers on board and having them wait up to an hour to take off,” Sheffield added. “Without a doubt, they have a wide area of opportunity to improve the quality of their service … for the benefit of the consumer.”
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