While the government strives to strengthen the new Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA), Mexico City International Airport (AICM) deals with instability regarding its operation and maintenance (O&M) infrastructure. So far in 2022, no progress has been made in any of the works programmed for this year, even though a budget was already allocated and approved.
AICM's management has not been able to develop various infrastructure works required to facilitate the airport’s users. Although some of these works are listed in AICM’s 2022 budget and are necessary for its proper operation, these projects show no progress.
To comply with its regulatory commitments, AICM's management began updating the information of 18 investment programs and projects registered with the Ministry of Finance (SHCP). To this end, it invited Consultoría y Análisis en Ingeniería y Economía, Siecorp Ingeniería Aplicada, Centro de Análisis de Programas y Evaluación de Proyectos and Infraestructura Lidika to complete the projects.
The largest investment amount of the project list, standing at MX$1.18 billion (US$60 million), is destined for the execution of maintenance works to address structural issues occurring in both of the airport's terminals, and ensure smooth operation in the medium and long term.
The construction of an aircraft safety apron with a new non-intervention area of 17,110m² and a helicopter safety apron of 3,850m², as well as a taxiway, an access road, lighting systems and emergency signs, which requires MX$231.4 million (US$11.77 million).
To enable the works, the Ministry of Finance allocated MX$46.5 million (US$2.36 million) to AICM at the beginning of 2022, which was followed by a budget extension to MX$100.9 million (US$5.13 million). However, in the projects' progress report for 1Q22, not a single peso had been spent. At the time of writing, no explanation to justify the lack of progress for O&M at the country's most important air terminal has been given.
The lack of maintenance has been a recurring topic in recent years. Juan Carlos Machorro, Partner, Santamarina y Steta, explains that AICM "has been showing signs of deterioration for more than two decades. The airport was destined to close operations permanently with the opening of the New Texcoco Airport (NAICM), which would have taken over all of AICM's operations with a capacity for growth toward the medium and long term."
However, NAICM's cancellation revived AICM's long-term operation. The problem, Machorro explains, lies in the fact that the decision to cancel NAICM left AICM without economic, operational or technological resources to continue operating at pre-pandemic levels, since AICM's main income, the Airport Use Tax (TUA), was committed to pay the debt of the canceled project for at least the next 25 years.
Investment in AICM maintenance was also frozen by the construction of AIFA, an airport that would replace NAICM but would operate in conjunction with AICM. The lack of government interest in ensuring the proper functioning of the latter has exacerbated the issue. "Infrastructure assets have a useful life and AICM has already seen its best times. Reviving the AICM, even with the AIFA project and Toluca International Airport operating, represents more problems than solutions," believes Machorro.