Less than 2 1/2 years after construction began, the 80-billion-peso (US $3.9 billion) Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) commenced operations on Monday with the first flight departing in the early morning for Villahermosa, Tabasco.
An Aeroméxico plane carrying 89 passengers took off from the México state airport just before 7:00 a.m., about 20 minutes later than scheduled. It touched down in the Tabasco capital at about 8:00 a.m.
The AIFA, built by the army on an Air Force base about 50 kilometers north of downtown Mexico City, also received its first incoming passenger flight on Monday morning – a VivaAerobús service from Guadalajara, Jalisco.
A total of 20 departures and arrivals are scheduled for Monday, said National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval.
That figure includes 14 incoming and outgoing domestic flights, and the arrival and departure of a plane operated by state-owned Venezuelan airline Conviasa, which has announced weekly flights to and from Caracas. The other four scheduled operations are the arrival of two private jets from the United States and the arrival of cargo aircraft from Saltillo, Coahuila, and Laredo, Texas, Cresencio said.
Just over 2,000 passengers are expected to use the new airport on its first day of operations. It was built to relieve pressure on the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), which has reached saturation point, according to the federal government. On average, more than 136,000 passengers travel through that airport daily.
At President López Obrador’s regular news conference, held at the airport Monday morning, AIFA general director Isidoro Pastor said commercial flights to the United States will commence in the second half of 2022. He suggested that Delta and Panamanian airline Copa will be among the carriers offering services to the U.S.
López Obrador said that millions of Mexicans are in favor of the construction of large scale public infrastructure projects such as the AIFA, which the president chose to pursue after canceling the previous government’s larger, more expensive airport project, which he claimed was riddled with corruption.
AMLO also said that the AIFA is 100% complete. “It’s completely finished. Planes can touch down 24 hours, take off and arrive with modern radar systems,” he said.
He traveled to the new airport at 5:00 a.m. Monday from the National Palace in downtown Mexico City, taking 40 minutes to get to the facility. The newspaper Reforma reported that the convoy of which the president’s vehicle was part didn’t experience any delays.
The AIFA posted a video to its TikTok account Sunday that claimed that travel times to the new airport are shorter from various points of the capital when compared with travel times to the site of the canceled airport in Texcoco, México state. Getting to the AIFA from the center of Mexico City, the neighborhoods of Condesa, Polanco and Interlomas, and the Mundo E shopping center takes less than an hour, the video said, even without new highway infrastructure in place.
The newspaper El Universal reported that getting to the AIFA from the AICM took 1 hour and 49 minutes on Saturday, but Pastor presented information last week showing that the journey takes just 57 minutes.
López Obrador has said that getting to the new airport from central Mexico City by train will take just 45 minutes, but the rail link is not expected to be finished until 2023.
Information about the Felipe Ángeles Airport can be found on its website.