By KELIN DILLON
The new Military Air Base (BAM) of the Santa Lucía International Airport was inaugurated on Wednesday, Feb. 10, to mark its construction reaching 50 percent of its completion,with its first fly in by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Mexico’s newest BAM reportedly cost 82.136 billion pesos, including its connection by land to the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), and is set to be christened in the name of famed Mexican revolutionary General Felipe Ángeles.
AMLO boarded one of the Mexican Airforce’s Boeing 737s at 9 a.m., which officially arrived as the first airplane to ever touch down at the Santa Lucía International Airport at 9:14 a.m.
López Obrador was accompanied on the flight by Secretary of National Defense Luis Cresencia Sandoval, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, State of Mexico (Edoméx) Governor Alfredo del Mazo, Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad, Supreme Court of Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar and Chamber of Deputies Vice President Dolores Padierna.
AMLO notably wore a mask on the flight, though he removed it on exiting the aircraft, claiming he could maintain a safe sanitary distance from others.
A ceremony commemorating the 106th anniversary of the Mexican Air Force was then held, including awards honoring its outstanding military personnel.
AMLO then took the floor, speaking about how Mexico’s Army, Navy and Air Force “are moving the country forward.”
“They are pillars of the Mexican state,” he said.
Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) will oversee and run the operations of the new airport, and will also receive all of the airport’s earnings, bolstering its already high budget.
López Obrador had controversially cancelled his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto’s plans for Mexico City’s New International Airport (NAIM) after assuming office in 2018, located in the much more accessible Lago Texcoco regioon, which cost about 400 billion pesos and was over 70 percent constructed at the time of its cancelation.
“It is the most important airport being built in the world,” said AMLO about the much more modest Santa Lucia project.
“It is a phenomenon in civil engineering because it is being done in record time and we are saving, according to the original Texcoco project, 230 billion pesos.”
AMLO said the Santa Lucía International Airport is scheduled for completion in March 2022, while the NAIM would not have been scheduled to finish until well into 2024.
The airport has caught flack from it’s lengthy 50-kilometer distance from the Mexico City metropolitan area, which López Obrador said would be supplemented by a train connection between it and the current AICM, as well as increased road connections.
The Santa Lucía International Airport, upon completion, will have the capacity to accomodate some 20.5 million passengers each year. Further planned construction through 2050 will up the capacity to around 85 million travelers per year.
…Feb. 11, 2021