The new airport may eventually see more than 120 million passengers per year. // © 2014 FR-EE
Travel experts often list Mexico City’s Benito Juarez Airport as one of the worst airports in Latin America. Frequent fliers know the international hub all too well as both outdated and unreliable — a deterrent for business travelers who thrive on efficiency. But all of that will change in 2022, as Mexico’s capital city is set to debut a brand-new international airport.
The new airport, which has yet to be named, is still in the planning stages. The $9.2 billion project will be located 6 miles from the existing airport. It will feature six runways, with the capacity to support the demand for the area.
The airport will open in two phases: The first will have three parallel tracks able to handle a capacity for more than 50 million passengers annually. The second phase will unveil the last three runways, increasing the airport capacity to 120 million passengers per year.
As it operates now, there is a nearly constant overload at Benito Juarez that significantly restricts the airport’s ability to function. This inability to handle the current traffic puts a strain on the country’s entire transportation system and even has implications well beyond air traffic.
“The current saturation restricts communications within the country, limits Mexico’s connectivity to the world, restrains trade and investment and creates delays for users,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said in his Sept. 2 State of the Union address.
Mexico City has a strategic location for connecting passenger flow between North America, Europe and Asia. As of now, the airport handles more than 24 million passengers annually and is Latin America’s second-busiest airport, after Cumbica Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Mexican Institute of Transportation estimates that in 2015, Benito Juarez could have up to 18 planes waiting for takeoff, with 20-minute delays on average.
“No doubt, a ... great benefit of the [new] airport will be the impetus to tourism in Mexico,” said President Nieto.
Nieto noted that the airport is needed to match the growing demand of air travel into Mexico overall.
The Mexican government will finance the first stage of the airport and will issue bonds to fund later development.
Fast Facts on Mexico City’s MICE Market
- Mexico City is the largest metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere, with an average population of 21.2 million. With 17 convention centers, the city has the facilities to handle both small and large-scale meetings.
- The most popular convention centers are Centro Banamex, with four exhibition areas; WTC Mexico City, with three exhibition areas; Expo Bancomer, with two exhibition areas; and Hilton Mexico City Reforma, with three exhibition areas.
- In terms of hotel availability, there are approximately 50,000 hotel rooms in the city, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Some of the better options for business travelers include Hotel Melia Mexico Reforma, with 489 guestrooms, 28 meeting rooms and 93,439 square feet of meeting space; Camino Real Club & Suites, with 712 guestrooms, 24 meeting rooms and 88,632 square feet of meeting space; and Radisson Hotel Flamingos, with 252 guestrooms, six meeting rooms and 37,884 square feet of meeting space.