Rogelio Jiménez Pons, general director of the National Fund of Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), informed that the federal government is contemplating the idea of closing down the International Airport of Mérida, Yucatan, to build a brand new one in the south of the city, that will be granted to a private operator and financed through public and private investment.
This announcement was made by Jimenez Pons on Tuesday June 25, during his participation at the Sustainable & Social Tourism Summit, which took place in Cancun from June 23 to the 26. The official mentioned that they are analyzing the possibility, because they want the new airport to be linked to one of the terminals that the Maya Train will have in the “White City”.
According to the information provided by the head of Fonatur, there will be two Maya Train stations in Mérida, one will be located near Paseo Montejo, in the downtown area, and the other on a plot of 2,000 hectares in the south, where the new airport would be built.
Jimenez Pons explained that, although the issue is of federal competence, it has to be endorsed by the state government, represented by Mauricio Vila, and he added that the negotiations are going in the right direction.
“President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, already gave “green light” to explore the possibility. The airport would be operated by Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR), which manages several airports in Mexico, including Cancún’s”, the official continued.
Jimenez Pons also said that the Aeropuerto Internacional Manuel Crescencio Rejón would be turned into a Central Park (another promise of a “Central Park” in Mérida?).
“Right now the city practically surrounds the airport, that’s why it needs to be moved to the outskirts of the urban area. Mérida is growing significantly to the north, and the growth needs to be in proportion. Cities have to grow almost circularly, it’s logical,” said the official.
The outline of what will be the new airport is in charge of Mexican architect, Enrique Norten, who is already working on a conceptual design project approach.
Jiménez Pons also acknowledged that the most controversial part of the Maya Train megaproject is the environmental component and the issue with the indigenous communities of the Yucatan Peninsula. He reiterated that the railway and real estate works to be developed in Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatan are, as a whole, a strategic plan for the territorial reorganization of the region.
“Territorial reordering is needed under other lines of development; first the social inclusion and second, the absolute respect for the environment. Many people have doubts, but the plan is to turn ejidatarios and indigenous landowners into project partners”.
The official stressed that ejidatarios and indigenous landowners will not have to sell their land and urged them not to accept offers from speculators.
“Contrary to what critics say, the project is not an improvisation, since President López Obrador has been planning it for many years, as an alternative to develop the southeast part of the country that suffers a strong lag”, concluded the General Director of Fonatur.
by Alejandro Azcárate for The Yucatán Times