By MARK LORENZANA
The controversial Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) — one of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) pet megaprojects — scaled down its projection of transporting 2.4 million passengers this year to 700,000, which is 71 percent less than its original goal.
When the AIFA was inaugurated in March of this year, it projected transporting 2.4 million passengers by the end of this year, and 5 million passengers by the end of 2023. However, the new projection for next year has been likewise lowered drastically, from 5 million to 1 million passengers, 80 percent less than originally planned.
In an interview with Mexican business-focused daily newspaper El Financiero on Monday, Sept. 26, Isidoro Pastor, general director of the AIFA, “forgot” that he himself projected that the new airport would serve 2.4 travelers by the end of 2022, and insisted that the number of passengers who would have used the AIFA by the end of this year will be a maximum of 700,000.
“In the projection that we have scheduled for December 2022, we have between 600,000 and 700,000 passengers. So far, we have already transported almost 300,000 passengers through this airport,” Pastor said. “I don’t know where that information was obtained about 2.4 passengers, but I don’t have that information. It doesn’t correspond to what we have in our master development plan.”
In March, Pastor told López Obrador that “the master development program contemplates that, by 2022, we will be reaching 2.4 million passengers, and this obviously is a joint effort between convincing passengers and offering better conditions than other airports, so that they would come here.”
Other news outlets, including Reuters, have reported the AIFA’s original projection of serving 2.4 million passengers by the end of this year.
For Fernando Gómez, an independent analyst in the aviation sector, the administrators of the AIFA erred in failing to conduct the necessary studies to ensure that the original forecasts on passenger traffic would be met and, more importantly, the return on investment as well as the profitability of the airport.
“Someone forgot to take care of the return on investment, the viability of passenger traffic. The AIFA should have reached its profitability in the first six months,” Gómez said. “In this case, it is a complementary airport that had to absorb at least 30 percent of the passengers of the Mexico City International Airport.”
Gómez said he believes that the AIFA will continue to be subsidized by the Mexican government at least until 2014, since it has not achieved the necessary traffic to meet its operating costs or generate profits.