The federal government projects that the Santa Lucía airport will cost just 12% of the former government’s canceled project at Texcoco, México state, and will open in June 2021 with a capacity for 20 million passengers a year.
Project chief Sergio Samaniego said yesterday that construction of the airport at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base north of Mexico City will cost 72 billion pesos (US $3.8 billion), whereas the total cost of the Texcoco project – including the demolition of the current airport and that in Santa Lucía – would have been 600 billion pesos (US $31.7 billion).
However, once costs associated with canceling the previous government’s signature infrastructure project are taken into account, the price tag for the Santa Lucía airport increases to 172 billion pesos (US $9.1 billion), or 28.7% of the total projected cost at Texcoco.
The head of the military college of engineers, which will build the project, told a press conference that the Santa Lucía airport — to be named after the revolutionary general Felipe Ángeles — will be “austere in its design, efficient, functional, sustainable, easy to build . . . safe and emblematic.”
Brigadier General Ricardo Vallejo said the airport should be completed by June 2021 and will have a capacity for 20 million passengers in its first year of operation.
He added that the number of passengers using the airport annually could eventually increase to 80 million, explaining that “its maximum potential, its development potential, will be over 50 years.”
The first stage at Santa Lucía includes construction of two runways, a terminal building, a parking lot with space for 4,000 cars, a control tower, a maintenance hangar and a freight terminal, among other facilities.
Vallejo said that a new 46-kilometer highway will allow passengers to travel between the new airport and the existing Mexico City airport in 35 minutes. The road will cost 10 billion pesos (US $527.8 million) and be ready in two and a half years, he said.
Earlier this week, President López Obrador announced that construction of the new airport would begin Monday but yesterday he said that work would start in June “once we have all the requirements.”
The president explained: “I will visit Santa Lucía on Monday but if I tell you that we’re going to start to build the airport I already know what the opponents will reply. They’ll say: ‘Where’s the environmental impact statement, why isn’t the law being respected?’ That’s why it was decided to do the presentation of the project on Monday and construction will begin in June.”
He added that “the bad news” for opponents of the project is that people who live in the area have already been consulted and have given their consent for the airport to go ahead.
“. . . Little by little we’re making progress and in June 2021 we’ll be inaugurating Santa Lucía,” the president said.
During the campaign for the 2018 presidential election, López Obrador pledged that he would cancel the Texcoco airport project should he win election, charging that it was corrupt, too expensive and not needed.
Communications and Transportation Secretary Javier Jiménez Espriú yesterday accused the Mexico City Airport Group (GACM) of negligence and hiding information about irregularities in Texcoco, explaining that the possible embezzlement of 6 billion pesos (US $316.7 million) is being investigated
While still president-elect, López Obrador held a public consultation last October that found almost 70% support to cancel the project and instead build the Santa Lucía airport and upgrade the existing airports in Mexico City airport and Toluca.
Gerardo Ferrando, CEO of the GACM, announced this week that plans are being drawn up for a third passenger terminal at the capital’s Benito Juárez International Airport.
López Obrador said that if he didn’t cancel the Texcoco project, the Mexico City and Santa Lucía airports would have closed.
“The construction . . . of the airport in Texcoco was going to mean closing two airports . . . Do you know why? To make deals with the land of the two airports,” he said.
“What they [the past government] was planning . . . was the urbanization of the land. They wanted to build a kind of Santa Fe [an upscale Mexico City business and residential district] on the land of the current airport . . .” López Obrador added.
The president said it was “natural” for people involved in the “corrupt” Texcoco project to be upset, “but we have a popular mandate and we were elected to put an end to corruption.”
Source: Milenio (sp)