Adolfo Castro
Director General
Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR)
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Insight

Sufficient Airport Capacity Key to Economic Development

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 17:04

The unrestricted movement of people and goods plays a vital role in facilitating a country’s economic development. Air connectivity has a direct, positive impact on the economic activity of an area, which in turn creates jobs and benefits local communities. It is therefore of utmost importance that airport groups like ASUR ensure that all of its airports are efficiently run and have well-maintained infrastructure and sufficient capacity to handle the traffic received, says Adolfo Castro, the group’s Director General.

ASUR operates nine airports in the south of Mexico and one in Puerto Rico. It also recently secured a majority share in two Colombian operators, Airplan and Aeropuertos de Oriente, which combined oversee 12 airports across the country. Castro says the acquisitions will be an important strategic addition to the ASUR portfolio that allows the Mexican operator to enter the South American market. “These acquisitions will considerably extend the scope and scale of the airport services we offer by giving us the opportunity to serve 10.4 million and 5.2 million additional passengers through Airplan and Oriente, respectively,” he says. “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 in other airports in our group.” These high standards can be seen in the pioneering role ASUR has played in the Mexican aviation market, says Castro. “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 BMV,” he says. “We set new standards for safety and passenger service in our airports.” With regard to the growth of civil aviation in Mexico, ASUR worked actively to invest to create the necessary infrastructure for growth of its airports.

ASUR operates Cancun airport, one of the most important and busiest in the country. Between 1999 and 2017, the group has invested over US$1.13 billion in the infrastructure of this airport alone. Some notable projects have been the construction of two completely new terminals -– Terminal 3 inaugurated in 2007 and Terminal 4, which will be open this year -– as well as a second parallel runway that allows simultaneous takeoffs and landings, baggage-handling and 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,” says Castro. ASUR is working toward making Cancun airport an “airport of the future” through the incorporation of new technologies. “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,” says Castro. The group has also tried to streamline operations by installing the latest self-service check-in facilities and immigration facilities. It has been looking into alternative sources of clean energy, to reduce the airport’s environmental impact.

The group is not only trying to improve its own facilities. It is also working with fellow airport administrators to strengthen the Mexican aviation sector. ASUR has been active in the Latin America Chapter of the Airports Council International (ACILAC). Its director of regional airports served as president of ACI-LAC between 2005 and 2008 and it 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 to Mexico and to promote Mexico as a tourist destination in a wide range of international events,” Castro says. “We plan to continue working with and supporting new and existing airline clients to develop routes and increase frequencies on existing routes, whenever this makes good business sense.”

Even though ASUR works in the south of the country, Castro welcomes the development of NAICM in the center. “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,” he says. “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. It will create growth in the industry at the national level.”