Tulum’s eagerly awaited Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport is now open, with five daily domestic flights operating beginning Friday, and numerous international routes coming soon.
In its first phase of operations, the new airport will receive two daily Aeroméxico flights from the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), and Viva Aerobus flights from the AICM and the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), just north of Mexico City.
Following his Friday morning presser, President López Óbrador flew to Tulum to inaugurate the new airport, where he gave a speech emphasizing the importance of the project and congratulating its engineers and builders.
Viva Aerobus has said that the first flights will have an average occupancy of 94.5%, underscoring the popularity of the Caribbean destination’s white sand beaches and Maya ruins. The new airport is expecting 700,000 passengers in its first month.
Mexico’s revived army-run Mexicana airline is supposed to start operating from the airport on Dec. 26, and international carriers – including United Airlines, Delta, Spirit and others – will arrive in March.
The first international destinations to connect to Tulum will include the U.S. cities of Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Houston and Newark. But the airport also has the capacity to host flights to destinations as far away as Istanbul, Tokyo and Alaska.
— Mara Lezama (@MaraLezama) December 1, 2023
President López Obrador and his wife with Governor Mara Lezama at the opening ceremony.
The airport’s facilities include a 3.7-kilometer runway and a terminal with capacity for 5.5 million annual passengers.
The company in charge of the airport, the National Defense Ministry-run Olmeca-Maya-Mexica Airport and Railroad Group (GAFSACOMM), has said that it may be necessary to expand the infrastructure in ten years, due to high levels of predicted demand.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto International is built on a 1,200-hectare site located 25 kilometers southwest of the center of Tulum. The airport’s development has progressed at a remarkable pace, with planning beginning on Oct. 1, 2022 and construction on June 13.
An additional 300 hectares of land were used to build a 12.5-kilometer road connecting the airport to Federal Highway 307. This will give the facility connectivity not only with Tulum itself, but also with the Tulum station of the soon-to-be-inaugurated Maya Train and other destinations around the Yucatán peninsula.
The project created more than 17,000 civilian jobs, according to the head of construction, Captain Luis Fernando Arizmendi Hernández. The airport is expected to continue generating jobs and investment in the region, not only in tourism, but also in industries such as agri-food and auto supplies.
Although some have expressed reservations about the rapid commercialization of this once pristine and laid-back destination, many people have also voiced optimism about the surge of development it is expected to bring to one of Mexico’s poorer regions.