Planning on flying into Mexico? Things could be getting better – or worse. NAIM (New Mexico International Airport) has been a controversial headline across Mexico this year, and even in some international news outlets. But why is the airport, now under construction, so important and how will it impact travelers, both from home and abroad?

Mexico is climbing up the World Tourism Organization’s ranks and is the 6th most-visited country in the world. Most of Mexico’s traffic passes through Mexico City International Airport (AICM) but this airport has been operating over capacity for years.

After more than 20 years of planning, NAIM is finally under construction. NAIM was outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s key project but President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes the reins of office on Dec. 1, has spoken against the airport’s current location and placed NAIM’s fate in the hands of the Mexican people.

From Oct. 25-28, the country will hold a public consultation to decide whether NAIM will continue construction at its current venue on the Lake of Texcoco or if AMLO’s alternative proposal, the Santa Lucia military airbase, will win out.

What the ballot says:

  • Recondition the current AICM and the Toluca International Airport, as well as construct two air strips at the Santa Lucia Air Base
  • Continue with the construction of the NAIM on the basin of Lake of Texcoco and stop using AICM

How the debate breaks down:

Is the public consultation legal or not?

What will happen to the Mexican Economy?

The Pros and Cons of Santa Lucia, Toluca and AICM:

Price

  • The incoming government says building in Santa Lucia, Toluca and repurposing AICM will be carry much lower costs than NAIM but that there is not enough information to say precisely.
  • College of Civil Engineering (CICM): MX$385.7 billion
  • It will take time to plan the expansion of Santa Lucia and adapt the Toluca Airport, as well as restructuring the financing of the projects and ensuring connectivity between the three with the rest of the country and the city.

Location

The Pros and Cons of NAIM

Price

  • CICM: MX$232.2 billion
  • México Evalúa: MX$285 billion

Location

  • The Lake of Texcoco is an ancient lakebed with a complicated subsoil for construction, it has increased the price of the airport and caused delays in construction times.
  • The College of Geologist Engineers says that there has been unrapable damage to the subsoil due to inadequate processes taken to stabilize it. It is viable but they need to improve the soil and its surroundings.

Transparency

A big factor impacting the fate of NAIM is the assurance of transparency and the mitigation of corruption related to the project.

Want more information?

  • Citibanamex released a neutral report on the possible future of Mexico’s new airport. Read it here.
  • Interested in voting? Find your nearest voting station here
  • Want official information on the consulta, scroll through here

Sources: El Heraldo, SCT, Mexico Evalua, AMLO website, MITRE, CICM, CMIC

 

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