Mexico ‘s plan to overhaul the existing Benito Juarez International Airport for at least 15 years to decrease the burden of the country’s second-busiest airport has hit a roadblock with farmers opposing the project tooth and nail. The farmers had earlier thrown a spanner into an earlier project.
President Enrique Peña Nieto had unveiled details for a New Mexico City Airport. If through the Airport will increase by four times the existing capacity of the airport and make it the largest air transport hub in Latin America. However a group of farmers living near the airport are opposing the project.
The existing airport can handle up to 32 million passengers per year. The traffic is expected to increase in the coming year and the infrastructure will not be sufficient to handle the traffic in future.
The stakes are very high and the new airport can contribute 1.4% to 2.5% of GDP. This figure does not include the economic benefits from tourism which is sure to increase. It will also give a fillip to the sagging popularity of President Peña Nieto’s legacy. If the Airport project fails to take off, the economic impact will be immense and could reduce the GDP by more than 3%.
The upcoming airport will cost a whopping $9.2 billion, cover 11,400 acres, include six runways and have the capacity to handle 120 million passengers. The first stage of the project which involves the construction of 3 runways will be completed by 2018. British architect Norman Foster and Fernando Romero, the son-in-law of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, were roped in as the project’s designers.
Peña Nieto’s predecessor former President Vicente Fox who also wanted to build a new Airport in 2001 but was forced to shelve the project after farmers from the nearby town of San Salvador Atenco – 20 miles outside Mexico City, angered by the paltry compensation offered by the government launched a fierce campaign against the government. In the end the project was shelved. Peña Nieto would not like to have his dream project suffer the same fate as his predecessor.