AMLO calls for public consultation on Mexico City’s New International Airport

The $13 billion-dollar hub will be subject to public consultation, Mexico's President-elect said
AMLO calls for public consultation on Mexico City’s New International Airport
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the project was tainted by corruption prior to his July 1 landslide election victory - Photo: Courtesy of Mexico's Presidency
17/08/2018
13:31
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
EL UNIVERSAL & Sharay Angulo (REUTERS)
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Today, Mexico’s upcoming government postponed a decision on whether to complete a new Mexico City airport, arguing that the public should have the final word on the fate of the $13 billion-dollar hub, which the next president had initially opposed.

President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the project was tainted by corruption prior to his July 1 landslide election victory, and had pressed for an existing military base north of the capital to be used instead as the new airport.

However, a significant amount of work has been completed on the ambitious project, making a decision to scrap the airport potentially costly for López Obrador, who has pledged to crack down on public waste and look after Mexico’s finances.

López Obrador told a news conference the option of turning completion of the new hub into a private concession was still open so as to reduce risk to the taxpayer, as he and his designated transport minister, Javier Jiménez Espriú, outlined their plans.
 

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Jiménez said that following discussions with experts and analysis of the two options - finishing the current project or converting the military base - a national consultation would be held in the final week of October to decide on the way forward.

“The result will be binding, and on the basis of this, the definitive decision will be made,” Jiménez said.

López Obrador’s decision on the airport has become a litmus test of his economic pragmatism and relations with business leaders, who have strongly backed the existing project.

Contracts worth billions of dollars have been awarded for the airport, which aims to ease the strained capacity of the capital’s present hub and improve connectivity.

The project is the biggest public works plan under way in Mexico. Its planned terminal was designed by British architect Norman Foster and the son-in-law of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, whose family is also co-building and co-financing the hub.

In company of Jiménez Espriú and Alfonso Romo, the President-elect assured that “we must all take part in this decision regardless of how long it takes, because it will determine the disburse of public resources and we cannot make this kind of decision lightly.”

On his part, Jiménez Espriú highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of two existing projects: One in Texcoco, and another in Santa Lucía.

Regarding the Texcoco project, he stated that high construction and maintenance costs for the new airport represented a great inconvenient.

The ongoing project of Santa Lucía is likely to have less impact on Mexico City and lower construction and maintenance costs. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) determined that the simultaneous operation of the Santa Lucía airport and Mexico City’s current International Airport was not feasible.

Jiménez Espriú commented that Mexico’s mass media would organize forums to inform the population about the NAICM project and that, on the month of October, there would be a national consultation on the matter.

López Obrador assured that the citizen consultation was to be the first “democratic exercise” of his new government.
 

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