Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will on Monday inaugurate a new Mexico City airport, over three years after he scrapped a separate $13 billion hub under construction by the previous government that he cast as a symbol of corruption.
(Reuters).- The military base north of the capital which Lopez Obrador has turned into Felipe Angeles International Airport will start with just a handful of flights. It begins operations without a train connection, which is due to be ready next year.
The airport is the first of the major infrastructure projects planned by Lopez Obrador to be launched, and is aimed at easing congestion at the current Mexico City hub that lies approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the south.
“It really is beautiful, it’s one of the best airports in the world, a top quality piece of work by the Army’s engineers,” Lopez Obrador said ahead of the inauguration.
The airport was built in the teeth of criticism from business groups that had backed the part-built hub canceled by Lopez Obrador just a few weeks before he took office.
Following a contentious October 2018 referendum he promoted, Lopez Obrador ditched the unfinished airport in Texcoco on Mexico City’s eastern flank, arguing the project was riddled with corruption, geologically unsound, and too expensive.
The decision rattled markets and set the tone for an often fractious relationship with business under his administration.
The government spent $1.8 billion paying off the Texcoco bondholders, adding to costs sunk into the canceled airport, which the president labeled “pharaonic.” He then put the Mexican army in charge of building the new airport.
Mexico is mulling possible incentives to encourage airlines to move operations there from the current Mexico City hub, a senior official said this month.
Some critics of the Felipe Angeles hub have questioned whether both airports will be able to operate properly simultaneously. The government is adamant that they well.
An official website for the new airport was not loading as of Sunday evening. A Twitter feed for the project said initial flights would be going to Cancun, Tijuana, Merida, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Villahermosa in Mexico and Caracas, Venezuela.