By KELIN DILLON
Just five months after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) inaugurated the freshly constructed Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) as open for operations, the brand new air hub is already suffering from the same flight delays and operational issues currently plaguing its still-functioning predecessor, the Mexico City International Airport (AICM).
The AIFA has been touted by AMLO and the Mexican government as both a purportedly less-expensive solution to López Obrador’s costly multi-billion-dollar cancellation of the Mexico City New International Airport (NAICM) megaproject, and as a relief against the AICM’s continued problems with delays, near-collisions, structural unsoundness and overall chaos documented across the facility in recent months.
As a result, the AIFA has been set up by the current government to become the Mexico City area’s main airport, beginning with the movement of 204 flights from the AICM to the AIFA to help reduce the AICM’s potentially dangerous tarmac traffic.
But despite all the political talk surrounding the facility’s efficiency, it seems the AIFA is now facing the very same problems as the AICM only five months into its operations.
According to recently released data documented by the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC), 19.1 percent – or nearly one-fifth – of the AIFA’s scheduled flights faced delays. The information reveals that 84 percent of those delays were recorded as being prompted by weather issues, 17 percent due to the fault of third parties and 5 percent due to infrastructure failures.
Meanwhile, the AICM presented double these delays, with nearly 40 percent of its documented flights from January to March 2022 likewise failing to leave on time.
This has created an unreliable source of transportation for travelers both entering and exiting the Mexico City area, with neither of the region’s two airports functioning in a timely nor consistent manner.
“The AIFA faces the issues of the AICM because the change in airspace that Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (Seneam) implemented to address the need to give more space to the AIFA has not worked,” said air analyst Fernando Gómez, who went on to point out that the AIFA faces the same meteorological dust and smog issues brought on by the Valley of Mexico’s climate as the AICM. “If there is no effective reorganization, this problem will grow.”
Air analyst Carlos Torres went on to add that the AIFA should not be facing such regular and high delays given the airport’s low level of operations and brand-new facilities – especially given the government’s promises that the AIFA would solve the AICM’s problems.
“We must not forget that the AIFA was promoted with one of its main attributes being that it would have more punctual operations, that is a challenge that must be overcome and it would be terrible for passengers to suffer the same problems as they do in the AICM,” said Torres.