Debate continues over location of Mexico’s new international airport

By August 20, 2018

Incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s political team have presented a number of opinions on the prospect of the construction of the new International Airport of Mexico (NAIM).

According to El Financiero, there are a number of prospective ideas that have been suggested by the team, which bring into question whether the ongoing construction will continue at Lake Texcoco. It comes amidst further demands by the People’s Front in Defence of Land-Atenco (FPDT) for AMLO to honour campaign promises and cancel the construction of the airport and the currently selected location.

According to local reports, in the run-up to the election, López Obrador had opposed the building of the airport and supported organisations such as the FPDT citing that the new build did not benefit Mexican civilians. Instead, the airport has been deemed by the protestors as benefiting the interests of the business elite. The group further pointed out that the new construction will involve massive amounts of ‘ecocide’ within the valley such as the deforestation of current reforestation projects, and they claimed that not enough study has been conducted on the environmental impacts on surrounding areas. In essence, the protesters are campaigning to protect the location for future generations of Mexicans to enjoy. Despite this, AMLO has since allowed the matter to be submitted for consultation rather than outright support the cancellation of the project, causing an outcry amongst the community.

“We believe it’s time to listen to the people, the organizations, specialists and the citizens unhappy with the construction of the NAIM,” the FPDT was recently quoted.

Alternatively, El Universal revealed at the end of last week that Pablo Azcarraga, president of the country’s tourism board (CNET), has demanded that the current construction of the airport must continue, further highlighting a number of contrasting opinions across the country.

According to the statements from AMLO’s policymakers, the ongoing debate has alternatively presented the option to instead build two terminals at Mexico’s Santa Lucia military airbase and allow for the project to be run side by side with the current Benito Juarez airport.

AMLO has also suggested that construction of the project, wherever it will take place, is still open to independent contractors and that they will welcome the input of businessmen and engineers in regards to the decision before making a final judgement on September 8. Current President Enrique Peña Nieto will also have the chance to make an input in the final say when the opinions are presented to him on August 20.

Both options have a plethora of pros as well as cons. The current NAIM location is close to Mexico City and work is already underway, however, environmental impacts and total construction costs have yet to be fully encompassed. The Santa Lucia option has already pointed to lower construction costs however airline expenses would raise to factor in two separate runway locations and the current project would in turn face substantial financial losses to change the site.

Alongside proposals of the new Mayan train site, AMLO appears to be looking to increasingly entice further tourism to Mexico. It remains to be seen however, whether the president will side with that of ‘the people’ or that of ‘the elite,’ as protesters have since questioned.