A Mexican Air Force plane carrying President López Obrador and other officials touched down at the new Mexico City airport site on Wednesday morning as part of the proceedings to inaugurate the first completed section of the facility – a new military base.
A jet carrying the president, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, Navy Minister Rafael Ojeda, Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Health Minister Jorge Alcocer among others arrived at the Santa Lucía airport site north of the capital in México state some 15 minutes after taking off from the Mexico City airport.
Exhibition flights operated by the airlines Volaris, Viva Aerobus and Aeromar were scheduled to touch down on the new 3,500-meter runway — the first of three — later on Wednesday morning.
The new Number 1 Military Air Base, which was relocated within the Santa Lucía site, begins operations on the 106th anniversary of the founding of the Mexican Air Force.
López Obrador was to preside over a ceremony to mark the anniversary and inaugurate the new base, which will be used by the military for both humanitarian and security purposes.
The base, which has a projected lifespan of 50 years, includes 11 hangars for planes and helicopters, a passenger terminal and a logistics center among other facilities. The Ministry of National Defense described the new facility as modern, functional and efficient.
General Ricardo Vallejo, a military architect overseeing the army’s construction of the new airport, said Tuesday that Air Force aircraft will be transferred to the new base this month.
“In March, we begin the second big stage of the project, which is building the other part of the airport: the international air cargo area, the ground maintenance workshops, the logistics centers, the domestic cargo area …” he said.
Before flying to the site on Wednesday morning, López Obrador said that the Felipe Ángeles International Airport, as the new facility will be officially known, remains on track to open in March 2022.
“It’s a military and civilian airport, it’s the most important airport being built in the world and it’s a phenomenon of civil engineering because it’s being done in record time,” he told reporters at his regular news conference.
The president said the price of the project will be 230 billion pesos [US $11.5 billion] less than what the former government’s airport, which he canceled, would have cost. According to the government, the total cost of the new airport is projected to be 75 billion pesos (US $3.7 billion).
“It was a great decision we took, a wise decision,” López Obrador said, referring to the cancellation of the previous government’s project in Texcoco, México state, which he long argued was corrupt, too expensive and being built on land that was sinking.
He noted that work is underway on new transportation links to the Santa Lucía airport, including new highways and an extension of the Mexico City suburban rail line, and pledged that “basic communication” will be in place by the time the airport opens next year.
“By March we’ll have basic communication, you’ll be able to go from the center [of Mexico City] to the airport,” López Obrador said. “The Felipe Ángeles Airport will be inaugurated on March 21 next year, that will be quite an event!”