On October 28, the future of the New Airport Mexico City will be defined

Since the 90s, the current Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City (MEX) began to have problems due to the growth of passengers and cargo. That is why in 2001 the then president of the country, Vicente Fox, announced a call for the construction of the New Airport Mexico City.

Two options were evaluated. One aimed to build an airport in the city of Tizayuca, located in the state of Hidalgo and 55 kilometers from downtown Mexico City. Meanwhile, the second option was to build a large airport on federal lands near the city of Texcoco, in the State of Mexico and only 15 kilometers from the capital of the country. The second option was chosen.

The works began in September 2015 with land preparation and ground improvement in order to avoid problems due to subsidence, very frequent in the area.

By the end of 2018 it is expected to complete the foundation slab, a large part of the floors, and the assembly of the roof and columns of the main building. Two of the 6 runways would also be completed before the end of the year.

The new airport in Mexico will not only serve a larger number of passengers, but also aims to solve an airspace problem that harms the current airport due to the existence of large mountain ranges that require only a route to approach the runways. In this way, the new airport will be able to handle 142 air operations per hour with a configuration of 3 runways with simultaneous triple operation, compared to the 58 that the current airport can handle.

New airport of Mexico city under construction, February 2018
February 2018: The new airport of Mexico City under construction. (Photo: MackyMack75)

But in the way numerous inconveniences have arisen that have put in doubt the feasibility of the works.

Some officials have described the new airport as an extremely expensive project, technically unfeasible and that “smells like corruption”.

On the other hand, various organizations and inhabitants of the region expressed their dissatisfaction with the ecological and social impact that the project will have.

No less important are the environmental problems that the new airport should face: the excessive subsidence of these lands, which descend an average of between 21 and 30 centimeters per year; As well as water management, which requires complex works to prevent flooding and ensure supply.

For these reasons, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador called a national consultation where the inhabitants of 538 municipalities across the country will give their opinion on the future of the New International Airport of Mexico City.

The ballots carry the question “Given the saturation of the International Airport of Mexico City (AICM), which option do you propose is better for the country?”

And below it we find the two options:

*Recondition the current airport of Mexico City and Toluca and build two runways in the Santa Lucia Air Base.

*Continue with the construction of the new airport in Texcoco and stop using the current International Airport of Mexico City.

The consultation will take place on October 28 and the result will be binding, regardless of the level of citizen participation.

The survey question of the project's future
The ballot carries a single question and two options. (Photo: Publimetro.com.mx)

One of the options suggests continuing with the construction of the new airport and stop using the current one.

The other option is to recondition the current Benito Juarez Mexico City Airport as well as the nearby city of Toluca, 52 kilometers from the capital of the country. Both would be complemented by the construction of two runways in Santa Lucia, an air base 45 kilometers north of Mexico City that currently has no commercial flights.

Photo of the currently Benito Juarez Mexico International Airport
Aerial photography of the Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport. It operates with two runways and is the busiest in the country. (Photo: Norman L. Cullen)

Current Airport vs. New Airport

The current operating airport in Mexico City (MEX), also known as Benito Juarez International Airport, is the main one in the country:

  • Traffic in 2017 was 47,32,418 passengers and 537,262.69 tons of cargo. Figures that represent 30% more than the capacity of its design.
  • It has 2 terminals with 56 contact doors plus 35 remote positions.
  • 2 control towers of 35 meters high.
  • Cargo terminal with a capacity of 500,000 tons per year.
  • 2 runways with a length of 3.9 kilometers that do not allow simultaneous landings or takeoffs.

For its part, the New International Airport of Mexico City will be completed in two stages. The first, in 2020, will represent the start of operations in it and will have:

  • Capacity for 70 million passengers and 500 operations, landings or takeoffs, annually.
  • 1 terminal of 743,000 m2 and 96 contact doors plus 68 remote positions.
  • 1 control tower 90 meters high.
  • 1 Cargo terminal with a capacity of 2 million tons per year.
  • 3 runways with lengths of 4 to 5 kilometers that will allow 3 simultaneous takeoffs or landings.

The second stage would be completed by 2060, adding:

  • Greater capacity to serve up to 125 million passengers and 1,000,000 annual air operations.
  • 2 terminals and 2 satellite terminals.
  • 6 runways that will allow 3 takeoffs and 3 simultaneous landings.

The other airports mentioned in the options are:

Toluca International Airport Lic. Adolfo López Mateos (TLC), located in the city of Toluca de Lerdo, in the State of Mexico.

Due to its proximity to the capital of the country (52 kilometers), it is considered as the alternate airport of the same. It has the longest runway in Mexico and in 2017 some 789,081 passengers passed through its facilities.

Santa Lucia Air Base (NLU). It is located in the municipality of Zumpango, also in the State of Mexico, 45 kilometers from the center of Mexico City.

It works as a military base. It has a runway without commercial air activity.

Mexico City airports and options
Since 2001, there have been projects to replace or alleviate the great occupation of the Mexico City International Airport, also known as Benito Juárez. Initially the two options were to build an airport in the city of Tizayuca or to do it in federal lands of Texcoco. The latter was chosen and the construction of the New Airport Mexico City began. On October 28, citizens will be able to choose between continuing with said project or solving the problem by carrying out reconditioning at Benito Juárez and Toluca airports, and Santa Lucia air base.
Sources: Cnn, ReporteIndigo.com, Wikipedia, Publimetro.com.mx.
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