On March 21, the new Felipe ngeles International Airport will be inaugurated, the mega-project with which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will bury Texcoco’s dream. Military work is 85% complete, so the first phase of construction can be completed in time. But that would be the only thing, because Santa Lucia, the seat of the air base that serves as the placenta, lacks functional access routes to function with the normality that an airport of this scale would have required. Is.
At the end of last year, the ground connectivity of that airport was barely more than 40%, and this refers only to the modernization and widening of the lanes on the Mexico–Pachuca highway, from the airport via Tonatitla near Ojo de Agua. main access. Where the toll booth is located, an elevated bridge and junction with the road. Nothing is known about the rest of the functions.
However, in the eyes of someone who is not an expert in construction, even tangible work seems difficult to complete in 71 days. There is no delay in main access by Tonatitla, say people with direct knowledge. But the elevated viaduct, which can be seen when it passes through Tecamac, a municipality next to the airport that is nearly finished, does not have a new access road and connects to the old two-lane avenue.
That is, access can be ready around the airport on March 21, but, what can be seen BesidesIt will lack the promised routes to streamline and streamline traffic. The same is seen with junctions, which are in progress, though at a slower pace in some sections and without connecting many of them to the highway.
Work on the highway begins after passing the Ojo de Agua toll booth, 24 km from the new airport, and as there are sections that only wait for asphalt, in others the route is barely excavated. There are concerns within the military about delays in land connectivity, and they want the president to ask them to fire to build those roads. But even if it does, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.
If, hypothetically, all access functions to Felipe Engels had been on time, the airport would have remained like an oasis in the middle of the desert, in time away from Mexico City, where its main market is. Volaris and Viva Aerobus, the only two national airlines to begin operating flights since their opening, anchor their business models in passengers in and around Pachuca. But for him an airport like Felipe Angels would be the death of López Obrador’s first mega-project.
It is not intended, although there are indications that it wants to become an airport for low-cost flights, such as changes to the airport utilization rate (TUA), which is the most expensive in Benito Juárez in Mexico City (570 pesos), Will be the cheapest (120 pesos) in the country. The TUA certainly has an impact on the cost of tickets, but it also reduces the revenue for self-financing airports.
In any case, terrestrial contact is a headache. The Mexico-Pachuca Highway, which can be seen from the works, will be a great road that will start from 30 kilometers, let us say, as a reference, the monument of the revolution. Anyone who has taken that highway, at any time on a normal day, via the Indios Verdes exit, 8.5 kilometers from the same monument, knows how congested it always is. The distance of more than 31 kilometers between the toll booths in Indios Verdes and Ojo de Agua, without the rush, on any weekday afternoon, takes approximately 40 minutes.
On Saturday, January 1 of this year, with no traffic, the journey from the monument to the Revolution and Felipe Angels, which are almost a straight line, takes 48 minutes. At the same time, on Thursday 6 January, which does not collide with very heavy traffic even on Friday, the same route was made in one hour and 20 minutes. But for one person, let’s say, in Benito Juárez mayor’s office, the same route went from Mexico City airport to an hour and 34 minutes, an hour and eight minutes more.
The lack of connectivity today creates a funnel that opens when the toll booth passes by. There are alternative routes, such as the Circuito Méxicos, which can be taken near Santa Lucia and passes behind Benito Juárez, but they are an additional 20 kilometers (and fuel) to cut the time by 10 minutes. Another route is through the highway that connects Ecatepec with Naucalpan to be able to access the second floor of Periférico, which takes at least another hour, depending on traffic in Ecatepec.
The government is building a 23-kilometre branch of the Buenavista-Coutitlán suburban train from Lecheria station, where it will reach the new airport in 40 minutes. However, it won’t be ready until next year. The direct route between Benito Juárez and Felipe Engels, as far as is known, has not even been started. The elevated viaduct announced 10 months before Mexico City is the same. The connection also works with Mexicans circuits.
For the opening of Felipe Angels on March 21, there is little chance of a significant change in connectivity. The President will flag off a white mammoth. The challenge ahead is that before the end of his six-year term he has an efficient, viable and functional airport for all that really makes a difference with the liquidated Texcoco, and doesn’t mirror his misfortune.