SAT Aero Holdings, a Texas-based company the Mexican government contracted to source B737-800 leases for Mexicana, among other services, has sued the new state-run carrier for USD840.9 million, accusing it of four material breaches of their ACMI contract, a filing for Case 1:24-cv-02300 seen by ch-aviation said.

The breaches have undermined the ability of SAT Aero (formerly known as Petrus Aero) to help Mexicana get off the ground, the company claimed. Violations allegedly include failing to pay a USD5.5 million deposit for the lease of the first two of ten aircraft from ALM - Aircraft Leasing & Management; neglecting to sign financing and lease documents with prospective banks including NexBank Aviation LLC as well as lessors; poaching SAT’s pilots and crews; and not obtaining the necessary licences, including an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) required to bring the aircraft to Mexico, the filing said.

“As a consequence of Mexicana Airlines’ material breaches and its unwillingness to work with SAT to solve the problems caused by the airline’s breach, SAT has been left with no choice but to bring this lawsuit against Mexicana Airlines,” it added.

The two parties began their business relationship in December 2022. San Antonio, Texas-based SAT Aero’s management is composed of several former Mexicana (1921) executives, including an ex-chief operating officer.

Ultimately, after being unable to source the initially planned fleet of ten B737-800s, the defence ministry-run Mexicana opted to push back its launch date by several weeks and instead wet-lease in three B737-800s from Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (FAM, México City International) and two E145s from TAR Aerolíneas (YQ, Querétaro). The carrier is not paying lease fees for the Mexican Air Force airframes, and TAR was recently reported to be in breach of a leasing contract for an engine installed on one of Mexicana’s E145s.

Additionally, Mexicana was reported for imposing financial penalties on SAT Aero Holdings for late delivery, but SAT argues this was not its fault but Mexicana’s due to the contract breaches and that its representatives felt coerced and intimidated by the Mexican armed forces to amend the ACMI agreement.

ch-aviation has reached out to Mexicana for comment. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who often uses his daily morning press conferences to talk about the new carrier, has not publicly addressed the latest sue.

The airline has moved on from SAT Aero Holdings. It was recently reported that it has been in contact with Embraer about a possible order, and the country’s frontrunner candidate for the upcoming presidential election, Claudia Sheinbaum, has pledged to keep Mexicana running by adding new planes and launching new routes.