Mexico City (AFP) – Work on Mexico City’s new airport will begin next week, the country’s president announced Wednesday, months after canceling work on another airport that was already one-third complete.
“Next Monday, we will begin construction of Mexico City’s new airport,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a speech at the site of the project at the Santa Lucia airbase.
The terminal will replace a part-completed $13 billion project championed by his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto. Lopez Obrador axed that project after holding a referendum on the issue that was marred by irregularities.
The president, who ran on a pro-austerity, anti-graft platform, had criticized the new airport as an unnecessary mega-project marred by corruption.
Scrapping the project angered investors and the government had to pay $5.2 billion back to bondholders.
The new terminal will operate in parallel to the aging Benito Juarez airport in the east of the Mexican capital, as well as an upgraded terminal in the neighboring city of Toluca.
“This airbase has about 3,000 hectares, the current airport in Mexico City is 600 hectares. We are talking about five times the surface of the current airport in Mexico City,” said the president, known by his initials AMLO.
Hours earlier, in his ususal morning press conference, the president said the government would save 100 billion pesos compared to the cost of the canceled airport.
AMLO said the airport plans would “solve the problem of saturation of the current airport in three years, and not six, as originally contemplated.”
Mexico City’s current airport has an official capacity of 32 million passengers per year, but handled 44 million passengers last year.