The Mexico City International Airport (AICM) closed 2021 with a pronounced drop in passengers and soaring rental debts, which are expected to continue affecting the airport as the Omicron variant spreads.
In an official report, AICM explained that businesses within the airport have been allowed to defer rental payments for May, June, July and Aug. 2020 for 12 months plus interest. AICM also reduced leasing prices by 25 percent from Sep. to Dec. 2020.
The airport did not implement discounts during 2021 so debts shot up by 90 percent. As of Sep. 30, 2021, 243 companies owed AICM MX$1.99 billion (US$97.5 million) from the rent of spaces and other services. AICM’s debtors include currency exchange stores, restaurants, taxi services, car rentals, duty-free stores and airlines both local and foreign. About MX$1.04 billion (US$51.1 million) is owed to AICM for the rent of commercial spaces. For example, Avianca owes AICM MX$178.4 million (US$8.8 million), Interjet MX$55 million (US$2.7 million) and Aeromar MX$ 22.3 million (US$1.1 million). The remaining debt corresponds to the provision of services within the airport.
AICM is also suffering from a passenger drought. In 2021, it saw a total of 36,056 million passengers, 28.3 percent below 2019’s. Of these, 25,981 million passengers flew domestically and 10,172 million flew internationally. Despite these smaller numbers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that Mexico is one of the countries showing the best recovery in the world, mainly due to the lack of entry restrictions. Even without the restrictions, the country could face a rough 2022 due to the spike of the Omicron variant. “The recovery in air traffic continued in November . Unfortunately, governments over-reacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of the month and resorted to the tried-and-failed methods of border closures, excessive testing of travelers and quarantine to slow the spread. Not surprisingly, international ticket sales made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, suggesting a more difficult first quarter than had been expected,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.