By: MP News Staff
MEXICO CITY -(Dow Jones)- Operations started Thursday at a new 8.6 billion- peso ($787 million) terminal designed to ease congestion at the Mexico City International Airport, the country’s busiest. The terminal, which debuted with Delta Airlines Inc. (DAL) and Aeromar, will increase the airport’s annual capacity to 32 million passengers, Communications and Transport Minister Luis Tellez said at a news conference.
Traffic at the airport in 2006 totaled 24.7 million passengers.Tellez said 43.2% of the airport’s traffic will relocate to the new terminal during the first four months of 2008, when airlines Aeromexico, Aeromexico Connect, Continental Airlines (CAL), LAN Airlines SA (LAN.SN) and Copa will join Delta and Aeromar there. He said the terminal should save airlines that run routes through Mexico City MXN3 billion a year by reducing the amount of time planes spend taxiing to the runway.
He added that it should increase the airport’s take-off and landing capacity by 10% to 13%. The project was begun and completed in about two years, and Tellez said the government expects to recuperate its investment in six to eight years. Of the total cost of the terminal, MXN3.7 billion went into the construction of the sprawling building, which Tellez said doubles the amount of space-per- passenger at the airport.
The rest was gobbled up by infrastructure to redirect traffic to the facility, including 11.5 kilometers of highway, and a new hotel, both of which have yet to be completed. It also includes a train connecting the new and old terminals. Tellez declined to comment on future plans to build or renovate airports around Mexico City, where traffic is expected to eventually outgrow capacity.
Passenger traffic at the Mexico City airport increased 4.7% during the first nine months of 2007 compared to the same period of 2006, and 20.4% from 2002 to 2006, according to data from the airport’s Web site.
-By Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires; (5255)5080-3451; paul.kiernan@ dowjones.com