UPDATE: January 4, 2019: Mexico's newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has fulfilled a promise he made and has stopped construction of the $13 billion Mexico City airport under construction, according to Reuters.
At a Jan. 3 press conference, Communications and Transport Minister Javier Jimenez Espriu said that “construction of the airport is officially suspended” and that the government was working to terminate the contracts of companies that had been engaged in work there. In a message from Lopez Obrador, he said the government already had spent 3 billion Mexican pesos (U.S. $152.6 million) to modernize the existing airport.
When Lopez Obrador made the announcement about his intentions to halt construction of the airport back in October, the Mexican stock market took a hit in the billions, according to Reuters. At that time, the project was reported to be 30% complete.
- Based on the results of an informal referendum of approximately 1% of Mexico's electorate, the country's President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would stop construction of the new $13 billion Mexico City Airport when he takes office, Reuters reported, despite the project being approximately 30% complete. López Obrador said during his campaign that the new airport project was too expensive and tainted by corruption.
- Designed by British architecture firm Foster + Partners, along with partners FR-EE and NACO Airport Consultancy, the airport was to be one of the largest in the world with an 8-million-square-foot terminal engineered for the project's lakebed soil. The design team also specified prefabrication that would eliminate the need for the use of scaffolding. The airport, scheduled to open in 2020 and able to accommodate 66 million passengers a year, was to start off with three runways but expand to six by 2062. The LEED Platinum project was designed to use solar power, collect rainwater and circulate fresh air through displacement ventilation. López Obrador said the country will convert a military air base north of Mexico City for commercial use instead.
- López Obrador's announcement drove the Mexican peso down almost 4% and drew immediate criticism from the private sector. Current President Enrique Peña Nieto said construction will continue until he leaves office next month. López Obrador said the bonds used to back construction will still be guaranteed, but Peña Nieto said the $6 billion of bonds would have to be pre-paid if the project is canceled.
López Obrador's position is the polar opposite of many airport authorities that are trying to modernize their own facilities to accommodate bigger and more airplanes as well as an ever-increasing number of passengers. Recent estimations of the worldwide value of airport construction projects have approached $740 billion, with the U.S. capturing $50 billion of that during the next three years.
The biggest airport project in the world is the $32.6 billion Al Maktoum Airport in the United Arab Emirates' hotspot of Dubai. The project aims to increase annual passenger capacity to more than 220 million and includes new terminals, concourses, runways and associated infrastructure, as well as additional trains and stations that will serve the airport.
London's Heathrow Airport is also planning a massive expansion valued at $18.5 billion. Work will center around the construction of a third runway, a project that is expected to increase annual passenger capacity by almost 45 million and generate 60,000 new jobs.