With the pandemic and due discretion, the engineers of the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) fulfilled the mission: build the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) in 29 months. There it is planned to serve 20 million passengers per year in its initial stage and 85 million in 2052 (because it is in a Military Base, there have been military operations since last year).

Even with the excitement of the upcoming inauguration and the last-minute details (to date there is no corporate website and details on terrestrial connectivity are lacking, for example), the commercial take-off of the new infrastructure will be slow.

“AIFA is a very small airport with a view to growing. It will have a complicated start in terms of the operations that may add up. There are three airlines announced and with few flights…. and we know that it will have the great challenge of operating together with the Mexico City International Airport (AICM)”, said the president of the National Tourism Business Council (CNET), Braulio Arsuaga.

Next Monday, the ultra-low-cost airlines Volaris and VivaAerobus, in addition to Aeroméxico, will inaugurate operations with six domestic routes, complementary to what they have in other terminals, with the incentive of having attractive operating costs. Due to the electoral ban, the celebration must be discreet.

With these airlines on the runway, in the short term there will be only 12 daily operations at the terminal, which had a planned investment of 75,000 million pesos (including the relocation of military installations and land interconnection work). However, the information in this regard was scarce and last month, in a meeting with tourism businessmen, it was commented that nearly 60,000 million pesos had been spent.

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After the cancellation of the Texcoco airport, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador commissioned the military to build the terminal with the aim of solving the saturation problem that the AICM has been facing since the 1990s.

The AIFA, from its origin, is planned as a complementary airport (not a substitute), austere and functional. Also to be part of a metropolitan airport system, together with the Toluca International Airport (AIT), which now does not have any commercial passenger airlines (there are only cargo and private flights) and the AICM, according to government projections. of the 4T.

To date, no details of that proposed system have been provided.

The collaboration of civilians

The AIFA construction work was led by Sedena personnel, under the direct administration modality (where a dependency or entity must anticipate and provide all the human, technical, material and economic resources so that the execution of the works), that did not prevent the participation of private companies.

An example of this occurred in the works related to the central and south runways, platforms and taxiways, and military runway and platform, where INNOVA Pavimentos de México was contracted for the pavement design service.

CTI Tanques y Equipos Industriales was also contracted for the installation, assembly and welding of structural steel plates and accessories for fuel storage tanks.

Regarding the redesign of the airspace, necessary to guarantee the viability of the AIFA, in a report last month from the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) it was written:

The Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT), through the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) and the Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (Seneam) held meetings with NAVBLUE, Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA), companies airlines for passengers and cargo, the National Chamber of Air Transport (Canaero), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the College of Air Traffic Controllers of Mexico or the College of Aviator Pilots of Mexico (CPAM).

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The foregoing with the purpose of reviewing the parameters of the design of flight procedures, the results of the tests carried out in simulators, the operational procedures in severe weather situations or the new routes and airspace sectorization.

That work remained as a testimony of the technical arguments that will make possible the inauguration on March 21 of the new terminal, where the military also inaugurated airport and service facilities.

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