AFAC Narrowly Extends Cargo Airlines’ Move Out of AICM

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As airlines operating within Mexico prepare to shift their cargo services from the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) to Mexico’s other regional airports as decreed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) gave in to cargo operators’ demands and extended the scheduled time period of the move to 108 days – only 18 days more than the 90-day period initially established in López Obrador’s decree.

Though initially resistant to extending the time period whatsoever, AFAC eventually announced the extension for cargo airlines in a Jan. 25 letter sent by AFAC Technical Director Hugo Lara Moya to Mexico’s National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Conamer). 

Many of the cargo services are expected to be pushed to the controversial Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), Mexico City’s newly constructed secondary airport favored by the federal executive, as López Obrador seeks to reduce the airspace-saturation issues surrounding the Mexican capital.

The AFAC’s Jan. 25 extension modified the fifth transitory article of the decree’s draft, establishing that “the concessionaires and permit holders that provide the service to the public of air, national and international regular and non-regular exclusive cargo transportation, with the exception provided for in this decree, have a maximum term of 108 business days, to from the entry into force of this decree, to relocate its operations outside the AICM.”

While the AFAC may have acquiesced to cargo operators’ demands, the extended 108 days are still a far cry from the 180-day time period requested by airlines to carry out their part of the decree safely and effectively.

AMLO himself also proved resistant to giving cargo airlines additional time to make the move, speaking at his daily morning press conference on Monday, Jan. 25 – just one day before the AFAC announced the change – against the possibility of an extension.

“Why are they worried that the cargo will go to the AIFA if this is going to allow spaces to be freed up for the city’s airport?” said López Obrador at the time. “What worries you, if there are going to be fiscal precincts, if they have the railway, if they have much more space?” AMLO said.

“And they say: ‘Yes, we accept, but we want a year’, do you think I’m sucking my thumb? Why a year? They want to delay the issue, they say: ‘(AMLO’s) going to leave and we’re staying.’ So as it stands, the decree already is established with a reasonable amount of time, but not a year, 90 days, 90 days.”

Despite AMLO’s pushback, cargo airlines operating in Mexico – albeit ones who serve both passengers and cargo, who are exempt from the change – now have 108 days to move their cargo services out of the AICM.

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