Is the latest Mexico City airport going to operate? That’s the million-dollar question we aim to resolve, one month away from the airport’s inauguration.
Mexico City International Airport
On March 21, the Mexican government will inaugurate the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (IATA code, NLU), north of Mexico City. The new airport will function as part of a metropolitan system of airports aimed to ease the saturation levels at Mexico City International Airport (MEX). But, will it work? Let’s take a look at the challenges NLU has.
If you have ever been to Mexico City, you know it is a place where you can move with ease by using public transportation. There’s an effective subway system (and astoundingly mean, although it did have a massive accident in 2021 with 26 casualties), as well as a private bus company operating through the city’s major spots. Except for a few places, one is never too far away from a public transportation group.
- Nonetheless, the surrounding places of Mexico City are not as well-connected, they are inclined to severe traffic jams, and public transportation is known for its safety-related matters. NLU is located outside of Mexico City, 45 kilometers away from the downtown (in comparison, MEX is only eight kilometers away).
The Mexican government has several projects to tackle this issue, including a main six-kilometer highway and an expansion of a train line that will connect Mexico’s downtown and NLU in under 40 minutes. Nevertheless, these projects will not be finished in time for next month, when the new airport will open its doors.
While these projects are finished, the government has set a route of non-stop bus lines exiting from many points throughout Mexico City, including the current airport. But, at the same time, it forbade the use of private mobility providers such as Uber.
If these ground transportation projects are not successful, the entire airport could fail its economic advantages, as journeying from Mexico City to NLU could raise the cost of the trip over the average fares at MEX.
Felipe Ángeles International Airport
One month away from the opening of Felipe Ángeles International Airport, there are only six domestic routes confirmed. Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and Grupo Aeromexico will work a team of flights per day, each.
Each airline will work a domestic route that they already serve from Mexico City International Airport, bringing up the question of whether these NLU flights will be commercially viable.
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Volaris will fly from NLU to Tijuana and Cancun; Viva Aerobus will fly to Guadalajara and Monterrey, and Aeromexico to Mérida and Villahermosa.
According to Volaris and Viva Aerobus, there’s a growing market in the surroundings of NLU. Up to five million people live near the airport, and there are a few cities nearby that could profit from the latest hub.
So far, there have been no announcements regarding international flights. The Venezuelan carrier Conviasa was interested in flying to NLU, but nothing has been formally declared.
Additionally, Mexico remains downgraded to Category 2 by the Federal Aviation Administration. Therefore, Mexican airlines can’t launch new international routes to the United States, non-stop affecting the connectivity from NLU.
International Air Transport Association
There is one last point that has to be addressed: airspace management. The government is looking to simultaneously operate three airports around Mexico City: MEX, NLU, and the Toluca International Airport (TLC).
Delinquent last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the Mexican government to correctly implement the airspace management designed for the simultaneous process of the three airports.
Earlier this week, the president of a pilots’ association in Mexico told that there had been some happenings with planes flying close to each other in the final few weeks.
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