IATA Cautions Mexican Government Over Potential Capacity Cuts At MEX

planes at MEX Aug 2023

Mexico City International Airport (MEX), Aug. 5, 2023

Credit: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging Mexico’s government to engage with the aviation industry prior to unilaterally deciding to further reduce capacity at Mexico City International Airport (MEX). 

In a statement to Aviation Daily, IATA said it is aware the Mexican government is planning to announce a further reduction of capacity at the airport. The association has not received any official notification but can confirm it has made its position known to Mexico’s Secretary of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation Jorge Nuño Lara.

Potential capacity reductions are occurring after Mexico’s National Chamber of Air Transport (CANAERO) pointed out that airlines last year agreed to reduce flights at the airport from 61 per hour to 52. 

“Any decision to reduce capacity, especially at a country’s main airport, must be undertaken with the utmost technical and operational rigor, and in a collaborative and open processes among all stakeholders,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas. “Given the impact that the planned measure could have on passengers, air connectivity and tourism, we hope that the authorities will consider alternatives.” 

Cerdá said IATA is reiterating its willingness to work with the government to find the best solution for the problems affecting the airport, noting the association has collaborated in similar fashion on other projects in Mexico with good results. 

Mexico City International has been battling congestion for quite some time. Shortly after Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in early 2018, he conducted a referendum in which the country’s population voted in favor of halting construction of a new airport being built near Mexico City Juarez. At that time, the new facility was one-third complete at a cost of $5 billion.

López Obrador then opted to create a three-airport system in Mexico City, converting a military base into a commercial airport, and Felipe Ángeles International Airport (NLU) opened in March 2022. To a lesser extent, Toluca Airport (TLC), 59 km (36 mi.) from central Mexico City, is also viewed as a reliever airport. 

Mexico’s government has also mandated that cargo operations move from Mexico City International to Felipe Ángeles in September. The decision is not being viewed favorably by the U.S. government. 

Mexico’s airlines, meanwhile, continue to wait for a safety upgrade from the U.S. government, which issued a downgrade of the country more than two years ago. One of the many elements of the downgrade prohibits Mexico’s airlines from expanding into the U.S. transborder market beyond the size of their operations at the time of the downgrade. 

Lori Ranson

Lori covers North American and Latin airlines for Aviation Week and is also a Senior Analyst for CAPA - Centre for Aviation.