The new airport in Tulum, Quintana Roo, will be built by the army and open in 2023, President López Obrador said Tuesday.
Asked about the project at his morning news conference, López Obrador said that military engineers will build the facility, as is occurring with the new Mexico City airport that is under construction at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base north of the capital.
“I believe we’re going to start work at the beginning of next year,” he said. “We’re going to formally open it in 2023; it’s already a fact that this project will be carried out.”
The president said that 1,500 hectares of land were set aside for the airport after former president Felipe Calderón announced a plan to build one in the popular tourism destination in 2010.
He said the facility will be built across two government lots near the town of Tulum. One is owned by the Ministry of Communications and Transportation and the other belongs to the Ministry of the Navy, López Obrador said.
He rejected claims that the Tulum airport will be in direct competition with that in Cancún, Quintana Roo’s premier tourist destination.
“It’s thought that it will be in competition with the Cancún airport but it won’t be. The truth is that there is room for two [airports]. There’s room for Cancún airport to continue having a large influx [of passengers],” López Obrador said, adding that the Maya Train project, also slated to begin operations in 2023, will generate more demand for flights to Quintana Roo.
The markets took a different view of the airport announcement. Shares in Cancún airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (Asur) sank almost 6% last Thursday.
Despite the additional details provided by the president, it remains unclear how the Tulum airport project will be funded.
“We’ll have to wait and see what the composition of the capital will be,” Darío Flota Ocampo, director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council, said before today’s announcement.
“[It could be] private or public sector [money] or also a mixture,” he said.
Quintana Roo Tourism Minister Marisol Vanegas Pérez said that López Obrador’s announcement last week that an airport would be built in Tulum took state authorities by surprise.
“It was really unexpected for us as well as a lot of people in Quintana Roo,” she said, adding that it remained to be seen how the airport will be funded.
Vanegas said that having an airport in Tulum will be “extraordinary,” asserting that it will help the state recover from the current economic downturn.
Luis Javier Alegre Salazar, a federal deputy who represents Quintana Roo, said that the announcement that an airport will be built in Tulum is “great news” for the state.
“The president’s announcement … is another example of the federal government’s commitment to tourism,” he said.