The Unsure Future of Mexico City Airport


Written by Matthew Mendez , Journalist

Plans for the construction of a new $13 million dollar airport in Mexico City, which was planned to replace the deteriorating Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez, have been off cancelled after a referendum held by Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador voted against the airport. Though the people of Mexico City have made their disapproval of the airport quite clear, the current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced that his administration will continue the construction of the airport until Obrador assumes the presidency. Popular opinion remains split over the airport though. Only time will tell if Obrador upholds popular opinion or bends to the will of Mexico’s wealthy and influential.

President Nieto first announced plans for the construction of a new airport in September of 2014. The airport was to be built on top of the Zona Federal del Lago de Texcoco – one of Mexico City’s last vestiges of the vast lake which covered the Valley of Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spanish – and was estimated to take eight years and 120 to 169 billion Mexican pesos (9 to 13 billion U.S. dollars). A competition hosted by those funding the airport ultimately determined Sir Norman Foster and Fernando Romero as the lead architects of the project. Despite initial approval of the airport, the people of Texcoco quickly began to voice strong opposition to the airport.

Critics of the airport point to the ecological impact of the project.

Built on a dry lake bed, the airport would cause Mexico City to sink at an even faster rate. The airport would also result in the destruction of Mexico City’s last aquifer, a catastrophic event which would force the ever growing city to obtain water from other sources. Ecologists also voice concern over the loss of a rich environment home to a large population of avian species.

In terms of the economy, Mexico City’s new airport seems to promise positive results. The construction of the airport would supply thousands of jobs to Mexico City’s massive population and therefore, increase the economic prospects of those involved. The airport’s construction would also allow for in an increase in revenue for the country’s airlines, which suffer from the current airport’s sub-par conditions. In the long run, the new airport would supply a struggling population with opportunity for employment and further enrich the Mexico’s airlines.

Ultimately, the airport’s ultimate fate seems rather shaky at best. Though most of Mexico City’s population rejects the construction of the airport, a strong faction has emerged opposing the referendum. Opponents point to the potential economic good the airport could supply to the city and reject Obrador’s referendum as illegal and akin to actions taken by Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro. Clearly, Mexico City’s new airport remains a divisive issue in Mexican society and politics.