The head of the Airports Council International (ACI), the only global trade representative for the world’s airports, praised the construction of the new Mexico City airport, calling the progress made so far “incredible”.
In an interview with the aviation news site A21, ACI Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira also said the new airport could one day completely replace Mexico City’s existing airport, AICM, due to its potential for expansion.
He and Rafael Echevarne, ACI’s head for Latin America, said there were challenges to overcome before the airport could begin operations, such as ensuring the airspace is managed to function. simultaneously with the existing airports of Mexico City and Toluca and make it easily accessible for passengers. .
However, after visiting the site of Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), currently under construction at Santa Lucía Air Base, they were both impressed with the progress made by the Department of National Defense (Sedena) in construction of the facility, which is expected to open in March 2022.
“We have been big critics of the process because we never imagined they were going to deliver what they are doing,” de Oliveira said, apparently referring to the government’s decision to abandon the airport project. of Mexico City from its predecessor and start from scratch at a different site.
“We’ve seen business models in Latin America where they promise a lot but deliver very little. But here, what they have done in two years is incredible. The construction is simple and flexible, but it is fluid and well thought out. Sedena learned a lot about airports in a very short period of time, ”he said.
De Oliveira said AIFA will not initially have the capacity to replace AICM but could in the future as it clearly has the potential to grow.
“They created an airport which is kind of a mirror, and it can be replicated on the other side. [of the Air Force site], which would double the infrastructure “and create the kind of international airport Mexico needs,” he said.
At least as a first step, AIFA should operate in conjunction with AICM and Toluca Airport as part of a three-pronged plan to meet growing demand – at least before the coronavirus pandemic – for air services in the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area.
Some aviation experts have questioned the viability of operating both AIFA and AICM at the same time due to their close proximity. But Echevarne said the problem of limited airspace can be overcome.
“We know there are criticisms of the reconfiguration, but the airspace shouldn’t be an obstacle. There are ways to organize all of this; there is technology, and there are places in the world that are more complicated. With the will, this can be solved, ”he said.
Echevarne and de Oliveira noted that IAAF is quite far from Mexico City – about 50 kilometers north of the capital’s city center – and therefore fast transport connections will be essential. To this end, the federal government is building a new highway to Santa Lucía Airport and also plans to extend an existing suburban rail line to the site.
Source: A21 (sp)