SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Tourists bound for Cancun or other popular destinations south of the border might be stuck with longer layovers in Mexico City after Oct. 29.
Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has ordered the number of flights in and out of Mexico’s international airport (Benito Juárez, AICM) to be reduced from 52 to 43 per hour.
The reduction in flights will be the second to be instituted since October of last year when flights were cut back from 61 to 52.
Miguel Enrique Vallín Osuna, director of Mexico’s Federal Civil Aviation Agency, says fewer flights per hour should alleviate the “saturation of flights impacting the airport’s terminals.”
“A study was conducted over Mexico City’s airspace and it was determined the maximum number of flights to be safely in operation is 43 per hour,” said Vallín Osuna. “Given the over-saturated conditions in the airspace and airport terminals, it required a reduction of flights to safely and adequately provide a service.”
But critics of the plan, including Mexico’s National Chamber of Aerotransporters, say just 10 years ago, it was determined that 61 flights per hour were deemed safe.
“This is going to lead to a wide number of flight cancellations and will greatly impact the ability to move around affecting our country’s economy,” said Carlos Velázquez Tiscareño, director of MNCA.
He said it’s not the number of flights that is the problem, but the aging infrastructure of an airport in major need of renovation.
“This will also impact an important revenue generating stream and jobs creator for the government in what is the most important airport in all of Latin America,” he said.
Velázquez Tiscareño added that the reduction of flights will also hurt tourism in Mexico making it more difficult for visitors to reach their vacation destinations.
Others believe the reduction in flights is a way to steer more business to Felipe Ángeles International Airport, a new facility 30 miles north of downtown Mexico City.
This airport was constructed by Mexico’s Army and significant supporters of López Obrador.
The president inaugurated the facility 16 months ago when he claimed all new flights into Mexico City would have to use Felipe Ángeles.
So far, most airlines have declined to use the new airport.