A day after the clashes between the Mexican army and the Sinaloa drug cartel, 3 regional airports in the State of Sinaloa have reopened. On Thursday 5th January 2023, 2 planes, including an Aeromexico Embraer E190, were shot at by members of the drug cartel.
On Thursday, the Mexican army arrested Ovidio Guzmán, son of the famous drug leader Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, which led to clashes against the Sinaloa drug cartel across the state, and beyond.
The airline industry suffered as well. 3 Sinaloan airports, Culiacán International (CUL), Mazatlán International (MZT), and Los Mochis International (LMM), closed during the day. The impact cascaded to Ciudad Obregón International Airport (CEN), located in the neighboring State of Sonora, which also saw some impact on its operations after Aeromexico revoked its flights to this city.
On Friday, the Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMA), administrator of many airports throughout Mexico, including Culiacán and Mazatlán, declared the reopening of these 2 hubs at 10:00 local time after evaluating recent conditions through the Airport Safety Local Committee.
Culiacán International is arguably the busiest of the 4 impacted airports, with 174 weekly departures on average, according to data by Cerium. Aeroméxico, American Airlines, Calafia Airlines, Viva Aerobus, Volaris, and Transportes Aéreos Regionales operate at this airport.
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Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico
What happened in Sinaloa?
Ovidio Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was taken into custody by the Mexican army on Thursday. A week prior to President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official visit to Mexico, this arrest took place. The new Felipe Angels International Airport (NLU), a pet project of Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was chosen by both presidents of state.
Conflicts between the army and the Sinaloa drug cartel broke out throughout Sinaloa and Sonora after Mr. Guzmán’s detention. The skirmishes resulted in the deaths of 19 drug cartel members and ten army personnel.
The drug gang members set up blockades across the states. They fired live gunfire at three aircraft: a Boeing 737-800 and CASA 235 belonging to the Mexican Air Forces, an Aeromexico Embraer E190 operating flight AM165 between Culiacán and Mexico City, and an Embraer E190 operated by Aeromexico.
Aeromexico Embraer E190
Mexican Air Forces
Videos and pictures published on social media show bullet holes on the fuselage of Aeromexico’s Embraer plane, registration XA-ALW, and a Mexican Air Forces’ Boeing 737-800, registration FAM-3256. A video also shows the military shooting water to extinguish a possible fire on one of the CASA 235’s engines.
On Friday 6th January 2023, the Mexican pilot union (ASPA) released a report announcing that the crew members and 61 passengers onboard flight AM165 were all safe.
A passenger uploaded a video on social media that showed passengers seeking cover below their seats as shots can be heard in the distance. 2 children are even heard in the video questioning why this and what it was happening. Thankfully, no one onboard was harmed during the day of violence.
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