Mexico is poised to experience enormous growth in its tourism sector. The country has already broken records this year and the previous year and its trajectory is only expected to rise, however, there’s very real potential that this could be slowed without a new airport in Mexico City.
The construction of the new airport is one of the biggest uncertainties for the tourism industry at the moment.
With the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador earlier this month, the project could be upended as the president-elect wants nothing to do with the corruption he perceives as pervasive within the construction of the airport.
Early in his campaign, Lopez Obrador declared that he would kill the project, but he has since softened his stance and it seems that he and the current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, will work to decide the fate of the new airport in August. The two men will sit down and review options for the project.
There are currently three possible paths the project could take: continue the work at Lake Texcoco; cancel the project and have two lanes added to the Santa Lucia military airport, or have a new airport built in Texcoco without using the public budget and instead funding the project with private capital.
“I’m not going to make the decision. We are building a true democracy, not a dictatorship, and that is the way it will be in all cases because we are in a democracy,” Lopez Obrador said.
One concern that Lopez Obrador has raised is that the region is sinking at a rate of up to 1 meter per year. However, much of Mexico City sinks up to 40 centimeters per year and the current airport sinks between 20 and 24 centimeters annually.
Airline and tourism industry executives are clear in their support for the construction of the airport at Lake Texcoco.
Airline executives speaking on a panel at Tianguis Turistico in Mazatlan noted that continued tourism growth could hinge on bringing more air traffic and connectivity to Mexico City.
“With more than 39 million travelers coming to Mexico, the new airport could have a big impact on Mexico’s GDP and provide for more than 200,000 jobs,” said Cuitlahuac Gutierrez, director of IATA Mexico. “That will put Mexico in a very different position from where it is today. There are great global implications, and we support the project and making sure that it is achieved.”
IATA is very much in favor of constructing the new airport.
“With its enormous local population, strong attractions for business and tourism, and geographic advantages, Mexico City has the ability to play a much bigger role on the world stage,” said Peter Cerda, IATA’s regional vice president for the Americas. “But for that to happen, aviation infrastructure needs to be adequate and affordable, which is why it is absolutely vital that the new Mexico City Airport is built as planned.”