By MARK LORENZANA
The federal government of Mexico has tripled the amount planned to subsidize the operations of the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) this year, with the average cost per passenger exceeding 4,700 pesos.
Originally planned at 419.4 million pesos, the annual subsidy for the operation of the AIFA has risen to 1.3 billion pesos, an increase of 229 percent.
This amount was confirmed in the Quarterly Report on Public Finances, published on July 29 by Mexico’s Secretariat of Finance (SHCP).
With this increase, the AIFA subsidy will be more than double the subsidy of 680 million pesos provided for the Mexico City International Airport (AICM), which transports 120 times more passengers daily than the new airport.
In its first two months of operations, the AIFA transported 73,584 passengers, 34,416 fewer than the 108,000 that, on average, the AICM moves in a single day.
The number of AIFA travelers in its first two months of operation is also 99.6 percent lower than the number of commercial passengers carried by the AICM in the same period.
The slow uptake in operations of the AIFA is also reflected in the number of flights arriving and departing from the airport. In March and April of this year, the AIFA registered a total of 741 flights, 370 of which were departures and 371 arrivals. In contrast, in the same period, the AICM recorded a total of 60,162 commercial flights, with 30,040 of those flights departures, and 30,122 arrivals.
In 2022, the AIFA will also cost Mexican taxpayers more than other government agencies such as the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC), with 717 million pesos, or the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), which will cost the government 1 billion pesos.
Inaugurated by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in March 21 of this year, the AIFA is essentially hemorrhaging money, with operations insufficient to finance its costs, but with the new airport’s operating and personnel expenses still ongoing.
After the news of the extended subsidies broke on Tuesday, the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) issued a statement demanding that the AMLO government stop wasting money subsidizing an endless money pit like the AIFA and instead subsidize tortillas, a basic item in the Mexican diet, which have, due to inflation, left many people hungry.