- President Andres Manuel López Obrador of Mexico announced that construction of the new 72 billion peso (U.S. $3.8 billion) Felipe Ángeles Airport at Santa Lucía Air Force Base north of Mexico City will begin in June, the Mexico Daily News reported.
- Crews were already about 30% underway with a $13 billion airport in Texcoco, Mexico, a replacement for Mexico City’s existing Benito Juárez International Airport, when López Obrador canceled it last year, citing popular opinion and corrupt practices on the project.
- The Santa Lucía airport should be complete in June 2021, according to government officials, and the first phase will include the construction of two runways, a terminal, control tower, maintenance hangar, freight terminal and parking lot. Project officials said the airport will be “austere in its design, efficient, functional, sustainable, easy to build ... safe and emblematic.”
Mexican officials said the original airport plan, which included demolition of facilities at both Benito Juárez and Santa Lucía, would have cost 600 billion pesos ($31.7 billion) in total. When adding in the costs associated with canceling the Texcoco project, the price tag for the new Santa Lucía project is 172 billion pesos ($9.1 billion).
In order to achieve a successful dual-airport plan, the government is planning to add a third and possibly a fourth terminal at Benito Juárez and to spend 10 billion pesos ($528 million) on a new 28.6-mile highway between Benito Juárez and Santa Lucía. The third terminal at Benito Juárez will be for arriving passengers only.
Previous plans to begin construction — one which López Obrador announced in December and the other last week — were nonstarters.
The plan has many detractors who have pointed out that building an airport roughly 29 miles north of the existing one in Mexico City will provide logistical problems for travelers and their connecting flights. In addition, air traffic at the new airport, according to experts, could interfere with the flight paths at the current airport.
Further, Mexican government officials must still deal with the financial aftermath of the canceled project. López Obrador said the bonds used to support construction would still be guaranteed, but former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the $6 billion of bonds would have to be pre-paid upon cancellation of the project.
Like many other airports under construction around the world, increased capacity is the goal. The now-scuttled Mexico City airport's 8-million-square-foot terminal would have been one of the largest in the world. The new Santa Lucía airport will be able to handle 20 million annual passengers upon completion and potentially as many as 80 million per year in the future.