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Mexico Scraps Plans for Its New Mega-Airport

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© Getty Aerial view of the construction works of Mexico City's new airport, in Texcoco, Mexico State on July 31, 2018. (Photo by Pedro PARDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

By Kat Odell, Condé Nast Traveler

On Monday, Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced plans to abort Mexico City’s hotly anticipated $13.3 billion airport that’s been under construction for the last four years, squashing all hopes of the nation’s capital city becoming a global player in region airport hubs––akin to Amsterdam or Dubai. Instead, the administration revealed plans to focus funds on adding a terminal and two runways to a military base north of Mexico City to alleviate overcrowding at Latin America’s business airport last year: the aging Benito Juarez International.

After a controversial four-day public vote funded by Lopez Obrador’s own party which ended on Sunday, statistics shows that 1.2% of registered voters cast ballots, with 70% supporting efforts to cancel Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México, or NAICM. The proposed airport is located outside the jurisdiction of Mexico City, near the Lago de Texcoco, meaning that several hundred thousand indirect jobs may have been lost from the local economy if that airport was moved. During the campaign, leftist López Obrador made the shutdown of the airport project a priority, to appeal to his base.

Originally projected to debut its first phase in 2020, the mega airport––currently one third complete about an hour’s drive northeast of Mexico City’s downtown area––represented the country’s largest investment in the last decade and, with a six-million-square-foot main terminal, it would have been the third largest airport in the world. Tricked out with all the modern bells and whistles, travelers would have gained new routes connecting the Americans to the rest of the world, in addition to a sleek new space designed by Pritzker-winning architect Norman Foster, whose futuristic-looking terminals grace airports like Beijing’s Capital International and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok. Foster and his team had plans to collaborate with Mexican architect Fernando Romero who schemed the city’s stunning Soumaya Museum.

While the President-elect claims that Benito Juárez’s issues of overcrowding will be solved with his plan––note, the airport is currently one third complete, with around $5 billion invested––that outcome seems unlikely for a public facility that’s operating at over 50 percent capacity. It is important to note that, at 35,000 flights, Benito Juarez is at capacity, meaning no new routes can be introduced. Last year, the airport handled 44 million passengers, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new airport was set to handle 125 million. Atlanta, currently the world's busiest airport, handled just over 100 million last year.

But, there’s a silver lining. Following news of Mexico’s plan to scrap the new airport, the peso fell to a four month low against the U.S. dollar, from 19.36 to around 20.02. Which means that visiting Mexico just became that much more affordable.

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Travel - U.S. Daily News: Mexico Scraps Plans for Its New Mega-Airport
Mexico Scraps Plans for Its New Mega-Airport
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