Alfonso Sarabia
Director General
Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA)
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View from the Top

Long- Term Commitment to Sustainability of Airports

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:36

Q: What is ASA’S role in the Mexican aviation market and how does it contribute to civil aviation growth?

A: ASA administers and operates 19 airports in the Mexican Airport System. These are located in Campeche, Ciudad del Carmen, Ciudad Obregon, Ciudad Victoria, Colima, Chetumal, Guaymas, Ixtepec, Loreto, Matamoros, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Poza Rica, Puebla, Puerto Escondido, Tamuin, Tepic, Tehuacan, and Uruapan. Likewise, it contributes in five airplane terminals in Cuernavaca, Palenque, Queretaro, Toluca and Tuxtla Gutierrez. During the first half of 2017, ASA’s airports reported a passenger growth of 8 percent, compared to the same period 2016.

Furthermore, ASA Airports are strategically located in Mexico. They have been essential in the management of natural phenomena that has affected airplane connectivity, allowing us to guarantee the safe and optimum transportation of goods, people and other products.

Q: What has been the influence of the dollar exchange rates, airport traffic and tourism on ASA’s operations?

A: ASA’s operations continue to grow. Since 2013, we have posted an annual growth rate of 4.4 percent, corresponding to the rise in tourism in Mexico. Currency exchange fluctuations impact airplane fuel prices, which are ruled by international standards. Conversely, the price of airport services is not affected by this factor.

Q: How does ASA monitor the safety and quality of the airlines that operate in its airports?

A: It is paramount for ASA to guarantee safety, which for us means ensuring the safety of the people and aircraft. Every terminal complies with the safety regulation of civil aviation (AVSEC), which sets the basic procedures for prevention and safety measures for passengers, crew, land staff and civil safeguards.

Q: What are the main lessons ASA has learned through its experience in the construction, expansion and rehabilitation of airports?

A: ASA has more than 50 years of experience, a trajectory that has allowed us to consolidate a group of experts in planning, design, construction and operation of airports that comply with national and international regulations. Moreover, our experience allows us to offer consulting services in environmental permit management, analysis and technical studies for sustainable development. Also, ASA’s Unit of Verification (UVASA) evaluates the compliance with regulations regarding airport operations, with the authorization of the Mexican Entity for Accreditation (EMA).

Q: What are the most urgent airport infrastructure needs at the moment?

A: Airports follow “Master Development Plans” that help forecast their growth or capabilities. ASA updates these programs yearly and transforms them into investment and planned maintenance programs. Likewise, we implement annual actions to cover present and potential airport needs, which are often tied to the behavior and demand of passengers and freight for a given airport.

Q: What will be NAICM’s impact on ASA’s airports?

A: It varies by airport. From its construction, Puebla International Airport was planned to be mostly a cargo airport due to the Volkswagen plant and others in the region. But it has been gaining importance in passenger traffic. Given the intense promotional campaign undertaken by the government of the State of Puebla and ASA, a significant improvement in infrastructure has been made. Therefore, both passengers and airlines are confident in using the airport, which increasingly offers new routes and alternatives so passengers do not have to resort to AICM.

Airlines can also use terminals in Puebla, Cuernavaca, Queretaro and Toluca within the Metropolitan Airport System to attend to the demands of the Valley of Mexico’s metropolitan area and other nearby states. Each airport has its own market and importance, as does that in Mexico City. 

In Toluca’s case, the market demand is from the west zone and its surrounding areas. Its operation allows users to do what they need to do in less time and with more ease, both for national and international flights. Queretaro is farther away from Mexico City so the airport has gained its own market, which is performing healthily. Finally, in Cuernavaca, ASA has made significant investments to improve the infrastructure there and to promote the airport’s usage and demand, which we will continue to support through the generation of new air routes.

Q: What strategies are you implementing to foster the growth of smaller airports like those in Nogales, Tehuacán, Loreto, Nuevo Laredo and Tamuín?

A: For these airports we implement different strategies. We foster regional aviation, hold onto strategic air routes, develop new routes based on an efficient identification of the market’s needs and demands and promote the establishment of potential new routes at a national and international level. Consequently, we have created specific committees for air routes and promote interinstitutional agreements with SECTUR, CPTM and other states.

Q: Are you collaborating with the federal and local governments to strengthen these airports?

A: ASA has a clear responsibility and commitment regarding connectivity through the optimum maintenance and operation of its airport infrastructure and the permanent creation of new air routes. We have developed strong alliances with the entities with which we share common goals, such as the federal government through SECTUR and several airlines. Collaborating with other entities helps us carry the goal of connecting Mexico in an efficient way through its airspace. Likewise, the Airport Law considers the operation of consulting committees coordinated by airport managers, allowing the participation of private firms to add know-how and propose solutions, thus fostering a PPP collaboration.

Q:  What are the long-term plans ASA has to improve connectivity and promote aerial services to all socioeconomic levels?

A: The Mexican development of aviation has been marked by ASA’s 50-year commitment to excellence. Accordingly, one of our most important objectives is to foster growth and enhance aerial connectivity through airports in different regions to generate business, industry and tourism bonds through a safe and high-quality service.

Aerial connectivity in Mexico is a goal of the National Development Plan that corresponds to the improvement of airport interconnection, which we are achieving through the infrastructure of the airport facilities in our network, and through the promotion of new air routes and the incorporation of new airlines.

Q: What are the main challenges that Mexican and International airlines operating in ASA’s airports face?

A: The aircraft acquisition by Mexican airlines will allow them to bid for new routes and airports, which in the end benefits customers by providing more alternatives. Hence, the challenge will be related to operational efficiency for optimum profitability, a better service quality for the client and an expansion of the air routes with an increased connectivity and broader offer for passengers.

Q: How will ASA’s collaboration with DGAC and ICAO guarantee safe and sustainable airport operations?

A: ASA takes into account the published annexes by ICAO and DGAC to have safe airports. Regarding sustainability, we are also complying with environmental regulations, which we implement through environmental certifications in 18 of our airports. Likewise, ASA has recently supported ICAO in the second conference on aviation and alternative fuel. These efforts seek to contribute to the development of clean fuels, like biofuels.

Q:  What is ASA’s role in the record sales of aviation fuel and what are the future growth expectations for this market?

A: About 30 percent of an airline’s operating costs are for buying fuel and they must have an optimal process for fuel management from beginning to end. Our main input is fuel, so we depend on PEMEX. Together, we manage the national supply chain. We also have a close relationship with airlines. ASA has a huge responsibility but we are a strong and welldeveloped organization, with a prestigious reputation in the industry. Moreover, ASA provides its air routes with daily storage, sales and supply of aircraft fuel nationwide. In 2016, we provided more than 4,000L of aircraft fuel, and for the first quarter of 2017, we experienced an 8 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. In the wake of the Energy Reform, ASA is adapting its operations to remain competitive in terms of quality and to remain compliant with international regulations.

Q:  How is ASA preparing to face the increasing demand for jet fuel?

A: We have a strong commitment to being the main jet fuel provider in Mexico. We are a solid organization that is prepared to adapt and evolve according to the new challenges arising in the industry. We guarantee all our services. Accordingly, our main strengths are: 37 certified fuel stations with ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007, a certified quality-laboratory (ISO 17025), 300 supply vehicles, a 99.97 percent certainty level in operations that are environmentally responsible, more than 52 years of experience with ND-qualified personnel through the Trainair Plus OACI.