Mexican carrier Interjet's grounding last month of 11 Russian-made Superjet 100 regional aircraft had a dramatic but little-noticed impact on its flights between Mexico and the U.S.
During the past 30 days, Interjet has cancelled 30 of its 97 scheduled flights into the United States, according to Flightstats. The carrier serves 10 major U.S. airports, including two, Chicago O'Hare and New York Kennedy, in northern states.
Interjet, a low-fare carrier that models itself after JetBlue (JBLU - Get Report) , operates a fleet of 48 Airbus (EADSY) aircraft, nearly all of them A320s, as well as 22 Superjet SSJ-100 aircraft, which it operates with 93 seats. Interjet is the only operator of the SSJ-100 in the Americas.
Interjet grounded the 11 aircraft on Dec. 27, four days after Russian authorities ordered safety inspections because cracks were found in the tail section of one of the airplanes, which are manufactured by Sukhoi Co., a Moscow manufacturer of both civilian and military aircraft.
Interjet grounded the planes due to "potential anomalies," it told a local radio station.
Aviation consultant Robert Mann said Russian authorities should be credited for ordering safety inspections of the Sukhoi aircraft.
"I was pleased to note that the Russian aviation safety oversight authority took that step," Mann said. "It's always good to see [safety] oversight exercised.
"There are places in world where oversight is absent," he said. "The Russians really stepped up here"
In addition to flying to the U.S., InterJet has a codeshare agreement with American Airlines (AAL) on its flights from Mexico City to five Mexican destinations: Huatulco, Merida, Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutierrez and Villahermosa.
American spokeswoman Martha Thomas said the codeshare flights all involve Airbus aircraft. "The primary reason we codeshare only on certain flights on those Mexico City routes has to do with connections to our Mexico City flights," Thomas said.
While American and Interjet have no agreements involving Interjet's U.S. flights, American has re-accommodated Interjet passengers on routes where both carriers operate, including Cancun-Miami and Mexico City-Dallas, Thomas said.
Mexican aviation officials did not say what fixes or modifications were being done, but did say the work would be completed in January, according to the Associated Press.
According to Reuters, Sukhoi is part of state-owned United Aircraft Corp., an umbrella corporation created by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006 to revive the Russian aircraft industry.