Aeroméxico’s Bankruptcy That Altered Alfredo Adame’s Fate

There was a time when Alfredo Adame was far from the controversial celebrity he is known as today. Back in 1982, he received his official commercial pilot license with the hope of taking part in a selection contest to join Aeroméxico. However, the peso’s devaluation against the dollar during President José López Portillo’s administration posed a significant hurdle: the airline lacked the resources to afford new staff wages and decided against hiring to keep its operational finances afloat.

Adame then worked in the private sector as a pilot for various companies, accumulated flying hours in the public sector with the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), and remained in aviation until November 1987. It was then he finally managed to take his tests at Aeroméxico for flight attendant and pilot roles. He was informed that he would start working in May 1988. But yet again, something stood in his way: a strike and the intervention of Emilio ‘El Tigre’ Azcárraga changed his life plans.

Taking advantage of his good looks, Adame had also worked as a photo novel model and in commercials to earn some extra money. “I was in 12 commercials at the same time back then,” he shared with Anette Cuburu on Anetteando. This exposure brought him onto Televisa’s radar.

In early 1988, he decided to marry actress Diana Golden, and they honeymooned in Colombia, her native country. Upon their return to Mexico on April 15 of that year, they were greeted with the news of the Aeroméxico strike at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM). Unionized workers were demanding better treatment, fair contracts, and optimal working conditions. The company’s payroll included individuals unrelated to aviation, causing outrage.

“It was no secret that personalities of all levels, including foreigners, were on the company’s payroll, which included politicians and artistic beauties, among many others who incredibly bled the airline’s finances. The airplanes were used for all sorts of ‘private’ flights and political commitments,” recounted commercial pilot Francisco M. McGregor in his column on the bankruptcy of Aeronaves de México.

Amidst this uncertain scenario, Adame heeded the insistence of Martha Oliver, Televisa’s director of artistic hiring, to join the broadcaster as a telenovela actor.

“Televisa had already contacted me twice. Then came the Aeroméxico strike, and five days later, the technical bankruptcy, and three months after, total bankruptcy. Martita Oliver called me saying: ‘I want to tell you that we already have the news edited, and it’s bankruptcy, Aeroméxico disappears,” recounted the actor and host.

Televisa had first-hand information confirming the news, provided by Oliver, who received it from someone powerful, Emilio Azcárraga Milmo. Adame could confirm that it was indeed true, not a myth, that ‘El Tigre’ was a man with a thousand eyes, always aware of everything at any time and place.

“I arrive at Televisa, Martita Oliver greets me and takes me to Emilio Azcárraga Milmo’s office. We enter, she introduces me, and he says, ‘ah, so this is the one who doesn’t want to work with us.’ He knew everything! Then I told him that flying was my thing, not acting. He responds, ‘stop the nonsense, we already have the news edited, and this is bankruptcy. How much do you earn at Aeroméxico? Well, I’m going to give you five times more, a house, and a car,'” he remembered.

Still hesitant due to the hope that Aeroméxico could be rescued and offer him an opportunity to work as a pilot, Adame was unsure whether to accept the offer he couldn’t refuse from Azcárraga Milmo, as no one turned down the magnate. To further lure him in, Víctor Hugo O’Farrill, ‘El Tigre’s’ right-hand man in telenovela production, who knew of his boss’s interest in having Adame on board, came into play.

“I’m going to make you a contract and I’m going to put an escape clause in it. If things get sorted out with Aeroméxico, you go back to the airline, and we tear up the contract. If not, you stay here,” he was told, securing his hiring.

Thus, Adame entered the artistic world as an actor, even though he was already familiar with being in front of cameras and playing roles. His entry into Televisa wasn’t the only advancement in his life during that time, as his work as a model for the Trueno brand prompted two commercial changes for the label.

While Adame agreed to embark on his television journey, leaving behind his dream of being a pilot, Aeroméxico was reborn in October 1988 under the commercial name but legally named Aerovías de México after the Government and the Syndicate Union of Pilots Aviators (ASPA) held tense negotiations.

Both parties agreed to restart operations with new guidelines for the company’s operation with federal resources. The pilot payroll was reduced to 300 from the previous 1,000, and international routes were decreased due to the lack of staff.

“I did the underwear commercials (Trueno). They invented the reinforced front because of me,” Adame told Anette Cuburu. Additionally, the Mexican Wrestling Enterprise (EMLL) introduced the wrestler Trueno, a gladiator whose outfit prominently featured the brand name on the chest. Two versions of this character emerged in the ’90s due to the fame Adame brought to the undershorts.

In 1989, he appeared in his first telenovela with Televisa, Mi segunda madre, produced by Juan Osorio and directed by Miguel Córcega, Irma Lozano, and José Caballero. His producer was the same man he saw being reprimanded in Azcárraga Milmo’s office when he first met ‘El Tigre.’ The rest, as they say, is history.

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