Friday, November 24, 2023

More passengers flying out of Felipe Ángeles airport, but mishaps continue

Passenger numbers at the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) almost doubled between September and October and have increased almost 400% since the new facility’s first full month of operations earlier this year.

A total of 173,873 passengers used the México state airport in October, a 90.9% increase compared to September.

The former figure is 397% higher than the 34,981 passengers who passed through AIFA in April. The airport, located about 50 kilometers north of central Mexico City, opened on March 21.

Much of the 90.9% month-over-month increase in passenger traffic came from higher passenger numbers on flights between AIFA and Cancún and AIFA and Guadalajara.

Aeroméxico, Volaris and VivaAerobus offer flights on AIFA's most popular routes, which connect to Cancún and Guadalajara.
Aeroméxico, Volaris and VivaAerobus offer flights on AIFA’s most popular routes, which connect to Cancún and Guadalajara. (File photo)

Passenger numbers on each of those two routes increased by more than 25,000 in October compared to September, and thus 61% of the total increase in airport users came from people flying to and from the Quintana Roo resort city and the Jalisco capital.

Aeroméxico and Volaris both fly to Cancún from AIFA, while those two airlines and Viva Aerobús operate between the new airport and Guadalajara.

Among the other routes that saw higher passenger numbers in October were AIFA-Monterrey and AIFA-Mexicali.

Aeroméxico, Volaris and Viva Aerobús have all recently increased the number of flights they operate to and from AIFA, which was built by the army on an Air Force base in the municipality of Zumpango. They have been forced to reduce flight numbers at the Mexico City International Airport because the number of operations per hour has been cut there by 15% for the winter season.

President López Obrador’s idea to allow foreign airlines to operate domestic routes in Mexico could also help increase flight and passenger numbers at AIFA, but a law change is required for it to become reality.

One challenge the airport faces as it seeks to maintain growth in passenger numbers is keeping intruders out. Earlier this year, AIFA awarded a 26.4-million-peso (about US $1.4 million) contract to a company to control “harmful fauna” in and around the airport, according to a report by the news website Infobae.

Servipro de México’s job is to “drive away or even kill animals such as mice, ants, flies, mosquitos, cats, dogs and wild birds that represent a risk to the operation of aircraft on the take-off and landing runways,” Infobae reported.

However, the company’s work failed to keep stray dogs off the runway earlier this week. A passenger flying into AIFA from Oaxaca on Monday reported on Twitter that pilots on a Volaris plane had to abort their landing due to the presence of dogs on the runway.

Dogs cross the runway with a plane in the background.
AIFA officials have reportedly struggled to keep the runways clear of stray dogs and other animals. (Twitter @mrxmx2019)

“We had to do a go-around … because the control tower informed the pilots that there were dogs on the runway,” wrote the Twitter user Chip Diamond, who shared a video of the aborted landing.

“This is the level of security travelers have at AIFA,” he added.

He also shared an audio clip in which a person — purportedly a Volaris pilot — remarked in English that “the tower reported some dogs on the runway.”

AIFA hasn’t publicly commented on the presence of canine intruders, but the dogs were reportedly captured by airport personnel and transported to an army-run shelter called Los Perritos de Santa Lucía, or The Doggies of Santa Lucía.

With reports from Expansión and Infobae 

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