Fadlala Akabani Hneide
Minister of Economic Development
Mexico City Ministry of Economic Development
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Expert Contributor

Felipe Angeles Airport: An Investment Gateway for Mexico City

By Fadlala Akabani | Fri, 05/20/2022 - 09:00

On March 21, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, along with Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City Chief of Government, and the governors of Hidalgo and State of Mexico, officially inaugurated the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA), a key piece of infrastructure for a megaregion of 25 million people. Located less than 50km from downtown Mexico City, AIFA has two civilian/cargo runways and a third one for military use, all suitable for landing an Airbus a380, the largest passenger airliner.

Right now, the airport can receive 20 million passengers and 350,000 tons of cargo a year but its capacity can be expanded up to 80 million passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo. It is equipped with the latest technology for air traffic control, baggage handling, security checks, and conveyor belts for an optimal user experience. Constructed by military engineers from the Ministry of National Defense, the new airport complex includes apartment blocks, hotels, shopping centers, office buildings, hospitals, schools, three museums, parks and walkways, bike lanes, bus stops, a train station and two research centers: the Military School of War Materials and the Air Force School of Special Troops. In addition, the Ministry of Urban Development implements a comprehensive urban development plan in municipalities adjacent to the international airport. This includes an investment of US$150 million across 76 projects embedded with a sustainability, mobility, and inclusion perspective, thus benefiting almost 2 million people.

Moreover, AIFA has a strategic position due to its connections to major urban centers, including Pachuca, Puebla, Queretaro, Toluca, and, of course, the Mexico City metropolitan area. New roads, bridges, and underpasses are under construction around it, as well as an expansion to eight lanes of the Mexico-Pachuca Highway. Also, the airport has a passenger train station between terminals under a public square named “Plaza Mexicana.” An extension of the suburban train, now under construction, will connect Buenavista Terminal, in Cuauhtemoc, a central borough of Mexico City, to AIFA in only 39 minutes for US$2 one-way. This train service can transport up to 1,100 passengers along 42km of train tracks and eight stations in-between. Once finished in 2023, all these infrastructure projects will allow efficient, safe, and comfortable transfers from Mexico City to the new airport.

Such mass transit catalyzed by Felipe Angeles International Airport renders the surrounding area to the train stations fertile ground for investments. Mexico City has two: Buenavista Terminal and Fortuna Station, the latter of which is in the industrial borough of Azcapotzalco. On the one hand, above the boarding platforms of Buenavista there is a mixed-use development with a giant shopping center and hotel. It is also a major transportation hub connecting one subway line, two Bus Rapid Transit lines, three bus lines, and two bicycle-sharing stations. Within a radius of 500m from Buenavista Terminal there are 848 economic units, mostly restaurants, repair and maintenance services, beauty salons, financial services, and retail. Likewise, the area has unique tourist attractions, such as the Vasconcelos Public library, “El Chopo” flea market, and the Moorish Kiosk, not to mention its proximity to the Reforma Avenue financial corridor and downtown Mexico City landmarks. These factors combined with the connection to AIFA make Buenavista an international gateway in the center of Mexico City. Hence, investments in real estate, retail, hospitality, and business services in this area are bound to be a complete success.

On the other hand, Fortuna Station is right in the heart of Vallejo-i: Mexico City Industry and Innovation Cluster. There are 187 economic units in a radius of 500m dedicated mostly to manufacturing, but there are also restaurants, repair and maintenance workshops, financial services, and retail. The direct connection between Vallejo and the AIFA cargo terminal both by train and roads allows people and goods to move easily between these two logistics centers. In fact, the new airport is triggering significant productive investments with high added value in Industry 4.0, green manufacturing, logistics, clean energy, and industrial services. That is the case of the T-MEXPARK, a 4 million-square-meter industrial park under construction adjacent to AIFA. For Vallejo, the new airport represents an opportunity to develop a cluster of companies linked to the aerospace sector that allows easy location of their operations, products, and services.

The Felipe Angeles International Airport currently has only 12 daily operations; however, on May 10, the federal government agreed with Mexican airlines Aeromexico, Volaris and VivaAerobus to transfer more than 100 daily operations from Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport (AICM) by the end of the year, starting the first stage on Aug. 15 and the second on Sept. 15. Currently, AICM is at full capacity, with 50.3 million passengers a year and 1,000 daily operations. Therefore, charter and cargo operations will also migrate from AICM to AIFA in approximately 90 days. It is important to mention that there is no presidential decree restricting operations at AICM. Instead, there is dialogue between government agencies, airlines, and international aviation organizations to offer a reliable service across the country's skies.

AIFA is a safe, inclusive, and sustainable piece of infrastructure for one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the world. Economic development depends largely on the business and employment opportunities created by strategic infrastructure like this one.  Once the connectivity projects, especially the suburban train, are completed, the Felipe Angeles International Airport will become a major gateway for investment into Mexico City.