Adolfo Castro
Director General
Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR)
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View from the Top

Expanding within and Beyond Mexico

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:29

Q: What is ASUR’s role in shaping the Mexican aviation market and how has the group contributed to the growth of civil aviation?

A: ASUR has played a pioneering role in several major areas in the Mexican aviation market. We were the first privatized airport group in Mexico, and the first airport group to be traded simultaneously on the New York Stock Exchange and the Mexico City Stock Exchange. We set new standards for safety and passenger service in our airports. Regarding the growth of civil aviation in Mexico, we worked actively to invest and create the necessary infrastructure for growth, which did not exist when we took over.

Q: How does ASUR help to monitor the safety and quality of the airlines that operate within its airports?

A: We cannot allow an airline to operate in our airports if it is not compliant with all national and international aviation safety and quality standards established by the Mexican civil aviation authorities (DGAC).

Q: How does ASUR collaborate with other airport administrators to strengthen the Mexican aviation sector?

A: ASUR has been active in the Latin America Chapter of the Airports Council International (ACI-LAC). Our Director of Regional Airports was president of ACI-LAC between 2005 and 2008 and is a regional adviser to the organization’s World Governing Board. We have also worked with other airport groups in Mexico to bring new airlines and routes into the country, and to promote Mexico as a tourist destination in a wide range of international events.

Q: What are the main challenges that Mexican and foreign airlines are facing and how does ASUR support them?

A: One of the main challenges that all airlines face is how to limit costs. We support our airline clients by offering them the best service at the best price.

Q: What role have low-cost airlines played in ASUR’s growth and how will they contribute to ASUR’s future?

A: The emergence of low-cost airlines in the domestic market, and the subsequent bus-to-air-travel conversion, has created a lot of growth in the Mexican aviation sector, so much so that today ASUR’s biggest customer is Volaris, a low-cost airline. Internationally, we receive flights from low-cost airlines such as Southwest Airlines and Eurowings.

Q: How do you expect aviation services and operations to evolve in the near future?

A: This is an exciting time for air travel. We expect more demand, more competitive airfares and a greater range of travel options to fuel further growth in air traffic in the years to come. Improvements and innovations in aeronautical design and fuel efficiency will also create aircraft with greater ranges that allow airlines to fly directly to new destinations.

Q: What role does ASUR play in the country’s air infrastructure in Mexico and how important is a healthy sector for economic growth?

A: The unrestricted movement of people and goods obviously plays a vital role in facilitating economic development. We know that air connectivity has a direct and positive impact on the economic activity of an area, which in turn creates jobs and benefits local communities. One of ASUR’s most fundamental priorities is to ensure that all our airports are efficiently run and have wellmaintained infrastructure with sufficient capacity to handle the traffic we currently receive and any future increase in passenger and cargo traffic. For ASUR, it is also a priority to accommodate expected growth without causing operation delays or acting as a bottleneck for local economic growth.

Q: What differentiates ASUR from all other airport groups in Mexico and what has led to its success in the market?

A: What differentiates us are the services we provide to airlines and passengers, environmental and social programs and the initiatives we are involved in to promote our destinations. To simplify: our goal is to provide the best and cheapest service to airlines and passengers.

Q: ASUR bought the majority of Airplan y Aeropuertos de Oriente in Colombia, which includes 12 airports, for US$262 million. What are ASUR’s plans for this investment?

A: This acquisition will be an important strategic addition to ASUR’s portfolio that will allow us to enter the South American market and considerably extend the scope and scale of the airport services we offer. It will give us the opportunity to serve 10.4 million and 5.2 million additional passengers through Airplan and Oriente, respectively. We plan to invest in these new assets to bring them up to the high standards in terms of infrastructure and services that we have achieved at other airports in our group.

Q: Does ASUR have plans to purchase airports in other countries?

A: We look at every business opportunity on a case-bycase basis to decide whether it is good for the company, based on a strict analysis of whether or not we can create value for the airlines and the passengers given the specifics of the proposed terms of the contracts.

Q: How much has ASUR invested in improving Cancun International Airport’s (AIC) infrastructure?

A: Between 1999 and 2017, we invested over US$1.13 billion in the infrastructure of AIC alone. Some of our major projects were two completely new terminals: Terminal 3, which was inaugurated in 2007 and Terminal 4, which will open this year. Another priority was a second parallel runway that allows simultaneous take-offs and landings, baggage-handling, security systems, new FBO installations and the tallest control tower in Latin America. Getting things built on time, on budget and to the right specifications is always a challenge, but with a lot of hard work from our local team we have managed it.

Q: How is ASUR making AIC an airport of the future by integrating new technologies?

A: The safety and security of airlines and passengers alike is of fundamental importance, so we have invested heavily in state-of-the-art baggage handling and screening systems that are probably the best in Latin America. We have also tried to streamline operations by installing the latest self-service check-in and immigration facilities. We have also been looking into alternative sources of clean energy, to reduce our impact on the environment.

Q: How important is NAICM and what impact will it have on airports in the southern part of the country?

A: Mexico City is still the hub for most flights arriving from both domestic and international points of origin, and its airport is the tent pole that holds up the rest of the nation’s aeronautical infrastructure. The construction of NAICM is therefore of the utmost importance for the development of air traffic in Mexico. We expect that by eliminating slot constraints the new airport will allow more flights between Mexico City and other airports around the country, and will create growth in the industry at the nationwide level.

Q: What are ASUR’s long-term plans to improve connectivity within Mexico and with its neighbors?

A: We plan to continue working with and supporting new and existing airline clients to develop routes and to increase frequencies on existing routes, whenever this makes good business sense. Our route development team works constantly to identify new markets and opportunities, so far with great results, and we believe that this is the key to increasing connectivity in the long term.

Q: What new infrastructure developments is ASUR planning for its existing airports?

A: We are just coming to the end a major cycle of infrastructure investment, involving a major expansion of our airport in Veracruz, as well as Terminal 3 in Cancun and the construction of a completely new terminal building —Terminal 4— in Cancun, among other projects. Among the plans we are proposing for the next fiveyear period are: the reconstruction and reconfiguration of the terminal building at Merida Airport; the extension of Runway 12L-30R at Cancun and construction of a new parallel taxiway; and the installation of a totally new automated inspection system for arriving baggage going through customs at Cancun International Airport.

Furthermore, ASUR will invest in major extensions to the terminal buildings in Oaxaca and Villahermosa airports and also in major upgrades to the backup systems for baggage handling and inspection in eight of our nine Mexican airports.