After months of anticipation and uncertainty surrounding the migration of air cargo operations from Mexico City International Airport (AICM) to Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), a recent announcement made on Friday by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (SICT) has brought a sigh of relief. The ministry has made a 40-day extension official, as published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF). This extension grants some breathing room for concessionaires and permit holders to close their operations at AICM and move them to AIFA.
Since May 2022, airlines and cargo agencies have been encouraged to consider relocating their operations to AIFA. On Feb. 2, 2023, a decree was published at the DOF making the move mandatory. The original deadline was set on July 7. However, for airlines to successfully transition their operations to other airports, they needed adequate equipment for cargo warehouses authorized by the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) and an operational customs system, among other requirements.
The SICT said at the time that the relocation of cargo operations to AIFA would reduce congestion at AICM. Furthermore, AIFA would offer lower airport fees, ranging from 41% to 52% lower than average, and can accommodate up to 3 million t of cargo annually at its full potential.
During a visit by US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Mexico, he raised his concerns regarding the deadline for airlines to obtain international permits and certifications. With these concerns from the industry in mind, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador granted an extension to the migration deadline to Sep. 1, aiming to ensure a smoother transition.
The move could have a significant impact in airport operations in Mexico City, according to industry experts. "Considering that 62% of cargo arrives in Mexico City on freighter aircraft, the impact will be quite significant," says Glyn Hughes, Director General, International Air Cargo Association. The customs at AIFA collected over MX$3 billion (US$51 billion) during its initial four months of operation. According to Isidoro Pastor Román, General Manager, AIFA, once the 15 cargo vessels are operating, the airport will have the capacity to process 590 thousand tons. Several airlines have already begun the migration process, including Estafeta, Lufthansa Cargo, Emirates SkyCargo and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo.
The National Chamber of Aero Transportation (CANAERO) approved the extension, as it will allow stakeholders to meet all requirements while upholding the highest safety and service standards. The priority remains to ensure a seamless transition and minimize disruption in air cargo operations.