President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Monday gave the ribbon to Mexico’s 84.9 billion Sedena ministry.
Although AMLO and members of its Morena party hailed the inauguration as a triumph, there are still things to be done about the civil-military facility.
These include unfinished transportation projects to connect it to surrounding areas, its next phase of construction to reach full capacity, and negotiations to attract more airlines, in addition to convincing passengers to opt for the new facility rather than the cheaper one located Benito Juárez International Airport (AICM) in Mexico City.
AIFA has two new runways, one for civilian use and a for military purposes; a new control tower; passenger and cargo terminals; and amenities such as restaurants, a hotel, a shopping mall, and housing units for soldiers.
The overall project also includes a second phase of construction, to be built depending on passenger demand, Sedena’s civil engineer, first captain Martín Méndez Balleza, told BNamericas during a tour in August.
According to the Treasury Department’s latest update in July, AIFA’s final cost was 200 billion pesos less than Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) the previous administration started, but the AMLO administration resigned in favor of AIFA.
However, the government also compensatedNAICM Contractor at 113 billion pesos, according to ASF reviews.
While AMLO claimed the AIFA facility saved the government 120 billion pesos, the ASF review would put the figure at 88 billion pesos, but the final costs and benefits are still being debated.
In early 2020, the government presented several mobility projects to reach AIFA mainly from Mexico City and the State of Mexico. The works should be supervised by state and capital city authorities; the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT) and Sedena.
While all work was expected to be completed before the terminal’s inauguration, Deputy Interior Minister Rabindranath Salazar Solorio told reporters on March 15 that the 21.9 billion peso The Lechería-AIFA rail branch and the Mexibús-BRT Line No. 4 extension in the Mexican state of Mexico will not be ready on time, but will be ready before the end of administration in 2024.
The government planned more than a dozen works to achieve AIFA.
In mid-March, AMLO said the rail industry will be ready in Q1 23, acknowledging that the project’s main obstacle is acquiring rights-of-way. The line will extend the commuter rail system between Mexico City’s Buenavista station and Cuautitlán, Mexico state, continuing northeast to AIFA from Lechería station, two stops before Cuautitlán.
According to previous announcements, the work will be carried out by SICT, the main supervisor of the project; sedena; Ministry of Agriculture, Territorial and Urban Development Sedatu; and the Spanish rail operator CAF, which operates the route.
Regarding the BRT expansion, Sitramytem, the Mexico State Authority for Mass Transit and Cable Car Systems, told BNamericas in late February that it was working on two expansions to reach the airport.
The first concerns the 20 km extension of the Mexibús line n. 1, which will be completed on the day of the inauguration, and the second concerns the extension of line n the BRT line will operate will be delayed.
Although not mentioned by the authorities, other planned highway works are also not being completed, although they appear on an official list of completed projects.
For example, the 8 billion peso Zaragoza High Viaduct (No. 14 on the list below) has not yet been tendered, and the status of other public-private partnership projects already awarded, such as the 8.7 billion State of Mexico (No. 7) remain unknown.
Official AIFA project list
The federal government announced it would offer air taxi services between AIFA and Mexico City’s upscale neighborhood of Polanco.
Also some Mexico City bus Services have been activated and the three national airlines operating at AIFA said they will also offer road transport services.
AICM is almost 50 km away from AIFA, about 90 minutes by car.
So far, the government has signed deals with VivaAerobús, Volaris and AeroMéxico, as well as Venezuelan airline Conviasa, which will start operations at AIFA on March 21.
VivaAerobús will operate flights to the Nuevo León state capital, Monterrey and Jalisco state capital, Guadalajara, Volaris to the tourist hub of Tijuana and Quintana Roo in Baja California, Cancún, AeroMéxico to the Yucatán state capital, Mérida and the capital of the States of Tabasco, Villahermosa, and Conviasa to Caracas.
In February, AMLO said the airport would be managed by a military company called Olmeca-Maya-Mexica, which would also oversee other facilities such as the proposed Tulum Airport in Quintana Roo state, Palenque Airport in Chiapas state and Chetumal Airport, also in Quintana Roo.