Photo: Unsplash/Robert Bye

By MARK LORENZANA

The 90-business day period in the draft decree of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) that seeks to force cargo concessionaires to relocate their cargo services from the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) to other nearby airports in the capital — the Toluca Airport, for example, or the controversial Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), AMLO’s pet project — is “unattainable,” according to Mexico’s National Chamber of Air Transport (Canaero).

“For our members, achieving the complete migration of operations to other airports within a period of 90 business days is unattainable, and would put the security of air cargo operations in the country at risk,” the group said in a statement on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Canaero also said that the migration of operations to another airport, such as the AIFA, should ideally take about a year, and warned of the economic and societal impact of fast-tracking the elimination of cargo operations from the AICM.

“Moving the exclusive cargo service to other terminals in a hurry will significantly affect the proper functioning of the supply chain, reducing the competitiveness of our industry and impacting hundreds of direct and indirect jobs that cargo operations at the AICM generate,” said the agency.

The ideal one-year period that Canaero is proposing would allow other airports and service providers to absorb the new cargo operations under the same technical and operational conditions that currently exist in the AICM and, in addition, would allow for an adequate relocation of operational personnel, as well as managing the hiring and training of new staff, according to the agency.

On the other hand, the “hasty” decision to move the AICM operation to other airports would also create a “logistical problem,” not just for dedicated cargo aircraft, but also for Mexican passenger airlines that likewise transport cargo — companies that include Aeroméxico, Viva Aerobus and Volaris. It is normal for commercial airlines to earn a small percentage of their revenue from hauling freight.

Also, according to Canaero, there would be increased costs for importers and exporters due to the duplication of services, as well as the costs of ground transportation, customs and logistics services, in addition to the fact that current customs legislation prohibits the transit of various merchandise outside of fiscal precincts.

The group also warned that the current downgrade by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of Mexico’s safety aviation ranking from category 2 to category 1 does not allow the addition of new routes, so the decree would mainly affect national airlines, since U.S. airline companies can continue with the opening of new connections.

“Although the authorities have expressed that there will be no problem for the migration of these routes, to date no official confirmation has been received from the Federal Aviation Administration,” said Canaero.

Political commentator F. Bartolome, in his Thursday column for Mexican daily newspaper Reforma, criticized López Obrador’s decree.

“Like bees around sunflowers, so do the ideas hover over the head of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. And the President’s new big idea is causing more concern than joy,” Bartolome wrote.

“In his effort to get the AIFA off the ground, the president intends to ban cargo flights in the AICM, which in 2022 moved 570 thousand tons. It gives the impression that in the National Palace economic processes are not well understood, since those affected are not only the flights, but a long production chain that includes cargo companies, carriers, warehouses, customs agents and, of course, the companies that have designed all their logistics of supply through the capital airport. It is clear that the ‘I’ of AIFA does not stand for ‘international,’ but for imposition.”

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