Alfonso Pasquel, a board member of the International Air Transport Association and CEO of AeroMexico since 1993, has revolutionized Mexico's largest airline, introducing new business strategies that he's proven in his more than 30 years of corporate experience. But he's keeping the details of his "vision for market recovery" under wraps, at least for now. We trust he's doing the right thing: 90.5% of AeroMexico's flights have arrived on-time in the past twelve years, compared to the average of 82.3% achieved by the highest-ranking U.S. carrier—an impressive feat. We caught up with this busy businessman in his favorite city in the world and drilled him for travel advice, as well as insider's information on Mexico's tourist industry and what's in store for the airline industry in the next few months.
1. Where are you right now, and why? Anyplace else you'd rather be?
Home—Mexico City. I would not rather be anywhere else right now. Mexico is undergoing one of the most interesting moments in its history, and the airline industry is undergoing its most challenging moment in history. Never before have so many changes occurred in such a short time. I am a person who likes challenge, and I must say that today I face the biggest and most interesting challenges of my career.
2. How often do you travel? Where are you off to next?
I travel constantly—not only to attend meetings with shareholders and SkyTeam partners, but also to maintain constant contact with the market, our customers, and to interact with our employees. My next planned trip will be to Venice, Italy to attend a SkyTeam Governing Board Meeting.
3. What essential items do you always take with you when you travel?
I always carry my passport, personal organizer, a couple of dark suits, and my AeroMexico co-branded American Express card.
4. Describe your ideal vacation.
Overlooking golden sands on a Mexican beach, surrounded by the charm and hospitality characteristic of the Mexican people.
5. What is the worst experience you've ever had while on an airplane?
Actually, I have only had good experiences.
6. What changes has AeroMexico made in the past year to adjust to the new travel climate?
We keep reinforcing everything we have always focused on: safety as a priority, on-time performance, and world-class service.
7. How has joining the Skyteam Alliance affected AeroMexico?
SkyTeam has allowed AeroMexico to expand benefits for our customers in an unlimited manner. With 512 destinations worldwide in 114 countries, 349 frequent flyer lounges, seamless ticketing and availability, and 7 main hubs, we are indeed "caring more about our customers."
8. What trends or changes do you foresee in travel in the next 6-12 months?
Alliances will play a more important role as business and leisure passengers continue to be more informed and sophisticated.
9. Is Mexico achieving its potential as a tourist destination? What do most foreign visitors hope for in a Mexican vacation?
In dollar amounts, Mexico is the second largest business partner of the United States, and so attracts business travelers from all over the world. Tourists (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) come to Mexico for our cultural cities, eco-sites and, of course, our beaches. Visitors have come to expect not only the friendliness of our people and the beauty of our country, but also the world-class services that make their stay more productive and enjoyable.
10. What travel advice do you most often give these days?
Always be on time.