Conflicting Reports Concerning Santa Lucia’s Runway
The first runway for the Felipe Ángeles International Airport located in Santa Lucia has been inaugurated. According to Inmobiliare, President Lopez Obrador attended the event, along with Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, SEDENA leader Luis Cresencio Sandoval, SRE head Marcelo Ebrard and the governors of the State of Mexico, Hidalgo and Queretaro (Alfredo del Mazo, Omar Fayad and Francisco Domínguez Servién, respectively), among other political figures. The first plane to land was a Boeing 737-800. According to a report from Animal Político, this was followed by the landing of four commercial aircraft from companies VivaAerobus, Aeromar, Volaris and Transportes Aéreos Regionales (TAR). According to airport authorities, construction is at 50 percent completion. The opening of the airport is expected to be on March 21st, 2022.
Despite noticeable airport construction developments such as this one, there have been a number of conflicting media reports surrounding the validity of the airport’s construction progress. Some of these media reports have called this announcement a political showcase. For example, a report from Proceso quoted local legislator Jorge Triana calling the event a “circus” and claiming that the runway in question already existed as part of the older military base that used to stand on the airport’s current location. A report from Expansión outlet Obras, however, made it clear that the event was expressly meant to focus more on the military base being built in parallel to the commercial airport right next to it. Both the airport and the new military facilities are part of the same larger hub but are being confused by the media, according to the report. An article from Animal Político also addressed a piece of fake news that claimed that the military base’s recently finished air force terminal (a smaller, utilitarian building appropriate for military use and whose characteristics were detailed in this Aristegui Noticias piece) was meant to be the commercial airport’s terminal.
Another discrepancy reported on national media was how much has been invested so far in this project. The aforementioned Inmobiliare piece claimed that a little over US$4 billion had been allocated to the project “so far”. However, a piece released in Forbes two days after the event appeared to disagree by saying that same number was actually the “expected total cost” of the project, including rail and automotive connectivity projects with Mexico City. Forbes also noted that yearly budgets assigned to the project have doubled, after official documents showed that the airport's budget for 2020 increased by 128 percent, turning an initial federal earmark for US$266.37 million into a total SEDENA claim of US$607.73 million.