Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will inaugurate Monday one of his most cherished building projects, a new Mexico City Airport that reflects his administration’s contradictions and contrasts.
There is government austerity. His main campaign promise, which he made in his terminal is quite bare-bones, is fully displayed. Also, his usual outsized reliance upon the Mexican army.
There are also many widely ridiculed claims by government about the time it will take passengers for the terminal to open. It is located at 27 miles (43 km) from the city centre. The president has repeatedly complained that the media conspired to discredit his new airport.
Lopez Obrador stated Thursday that the terminal, which was built by the army at a military base, is so important that “our adversaries want it to be sling mud at them.” “There’s a whole campaign refusing that it was a very wise decision.”
The president views the new airport symbolically as his fight against conservativism, privilege and ostentation. The idea of a “rich government in a country” is something he hates more than anything.
Lopez Obrador was able to target the expensive and architecturally bold project his predecessor started to build an enormous new airport in a swamp at the city’s eastern border. This would be much closer to the center of the city.
Lopez Obrador decided to cancel the plan and build the airport on more stable ground to the north. The airport is expected to cost $4.1billion. Lopez Obrador claims that this represents a cost saving compared to the swampy site which would have required billions of dollars in maintenance.
Mexico City’s current airport will be used as a hub. The two saturated terminals were to close under the previous plan.
He is racing to complete it before his term ends in 2024. It is one of four keystone project he is racing for completion — an airport, an oil refinery and a tourist train in Yucatan Peninsula — reflecting his vision that he does not want a six-year term as a president. Mexico does not allow reelection.
He considers himself to be leading an historic and irreversible transformation of Mexico. To protect that legacy, he has taken to building projects and the army. After the completion of some projects, the army will be able to own and operate them.
Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst, said that Lopez Obrador’s radical rush to deliver all he promised in six years is what drove him mad. He has instead done it in an improvised manner. He has repeatedly stated that this isn’t another administration, but a revolution.
When his Maya Train tourist project ran in to problems, engineers realized they couldn’t build an elevated stretch of the Caribbean coast due to closing down the only highway. So they just started running the line through low jungle.
The feasibility plan and environmental impact statement were never comprehensively prepared for this project. It is not known how many tourists it will be used by.
It is common in Mexico to rush to finish projects before the term of a politician ends. However, this has been dangerous in the past. Marcelo Ebrard, Lopez Obrador’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, rushed to complete a Mexico City subway station before he was elected mayor. 26 people were killed when a section of the elevated subway line fell on account of construction defects in 2021.
Lopez Obrador is ignoring concerns about the feasibility and profitability of the airport. It is so far from the city centre that most major international airlines have avoided it. The only international flight currently operated by Venezuelan airlines is the one that flies to Caracas.
The president seems to have a very personal view of his decisions about where and what buildings to build. He has called for “referendums”, which have been attended by a small number of voters, mostly his supporters, to justify his decisions.
The cost of the new airport is less than half that of his predecessor’s. However, its foundations are now sinking into the lakebed. It’s not known how many people will use it. There are not many flights scheduled yet and there is no rail or road link.
Lopez Obrador’s administration claims that residents will be able to get to the new terminal in just 1 1/2 hours from the south side.
This may be true if the highways are clear but otherwise, the usual congestion could make it a 2 1/2 hour journey — more than domestic flights.
Jose Antonio Lopez Meza, an engineer consultant, has been to the new terminal and says that it is difficult to reach. I have been there and it is a long journey… It takes two hours from Polanco, a neighborhood close to the center.
Lopez Obrador’s government may have done so to make up for the missing rules.
His administration modified the rules which normally required passengers to arrive two hours prior to a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight. They will be allowed to arrive at the Felipe Angeles terminal one or two hours prior to these flights.
Lopez Obrador also decreed that all new flights must pass through the Felipe Angeles terminal. However, travelers prefer the older terminal.
Crespo said, “It means that the airlines have to go through Santa Lucia if they want Mexico.” There is a risk that some airlines will say, “Well, then I won’t fly to Mexico.”
Lopez Obrador has also been known to play with numbers. Lopez Obrador is also known to play with figures.
Lopez Obrador can only point out that Mexico didn’t do enough testing during the pandemic. This is because Lopez Obrador could not find any deaths that were confirmed by tests.
Lopez Meza, an engineer, claims that the army did a great job building the new terminal in a matter of years and accepts Lopez Obrador’s arguments against the old plan.
“This airport is more remote. Lopez Meza stated that the other airport was going to look very beautiful and be impressive. However, as an engineer, I can tell you that the construction site was a mistake. It was going to sink.”
He said, “It’s great that it’s going be cheaper and more functional.” “I don’t want a beautiful, luxurious airport. It is true that the country I live in and the people they are bringing to the airport they want to build are not suitable for it.