Interjet received the approval of Mexican authorities to merge with the HBC International fund, injecting capital into one of the four largest airlines in the country, but which still faces fines and debts with the tax authorities.
The Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece), Mexico’s antitrust agency, this week became the first authority in the country to validate the merger of ABC Aerolineas and HBC, but fined them 955,680 pesos (almost US$47,800) for not communicating the operation, reported EFE.
“It fined the companies for not notifying the concentration before carrying it out, as established by the Federal Law of Economic Competition (LFCE),” Cofece informed in a statement.
The president of HBC Internacional is Alejandro del Valle, one of the businessmen who last July announced a capital injection of US$150 million to rescue the airline, which has suspended operations this year in the midst of a strike and an economic crisis.
Del Valle became president of Interjet in December, displacing the family of former Mexican President Miguel Alemán (1946-1952), who founded the airline in 2005, which served close to 14 million passengers each year with a market share of more than 11%.
Although the merger will alleviate its finances, this Tuesday it was reported in the national press that the Tax Administration Service (SAT) is preparing a case against Interjet before the Tax Attorney’s Office to claim a debt of almost 3 billion pesos (150 million dollars).
Interjet’s financial situation has been of interest since February, when the organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) reported that it owed more than 3 billion pesos (close to 150 million dollars) to various federal agencies.
In addition, the more than 5,000 employees of the airline began a strike on January 8, when they denounced that they had not been paid for four months.
Days before the outbreak of the strike, SAT clarified in a communiqué that it controls the company’s cash flow to ensure “the priority payment of essential operating expenses”, among which is “first and foremost the workers’ payroll”.
In addition, the federal agency revealed that the company’s assets are still under seizure.
On the other hand, the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco) has issued an alert to customers to avoid purchases with the airline.
“If you have been affected by non-compliance on the part of the airline Interjet, we invite you to join the collective action against them,” Profeco urged on Monday.
So far, the airline’s new management has not issued a statement on its new concentration or on the fine issued by Cofece.
Nor has it announced when it will be able to resume its activities.