For over two decades, the current international airport in Mexico City has proven to be insufficient for the increasing air transportation operations in the nation’s capital and its metropolitan area. Almost one third of domestic and foreign passengers in Mexico need to go through, depart from or arrive at this airport for different travel plans. Approximately 56% of the international cargo departs from or arrives at the current terminal.

In rough numbers, Mexico City international airport ("MCIA") transports up to 30 million passengers a year and is globally ranked 55 in competitiveness and 49 in airport infrastructure. This is rather low, given that Mexico is the twelfth largest economy in the world. In contrast, the largest airport by number of passengers transported in the world is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with an estimated 95 million passengers a year, followed by Beijing Capital with 82 million, London Heathrow Airport with 70 million and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport with 67 million.

As a result of the demand for transportation and as consequence of the limit in operations of the current airport (maximum of 52 per hour), on September 3, 2014, President Enrique Peña Nieto formally announced plans to construct a new international airport to serve Mexico City and also announced that its design had been awarded to a consortium comprised of Lord Norman Foster and Fernando Romero. Norman Foster is head of Foster + Partners, a world-renowned architectural studio that has designed two of the largest airports in the world: Beijing’s Capital and Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok, aside from designing many award-winning buildings and structures. Fernando Romero has been involved in the design of Museo Soumaya, Plaza Carso and the recently opened Acuario Inbursa, all three in Mexico City.

Following are some facts regarding this major infrastructure project:

  1. Location

The new MCIA will be located about 23 kilometers to the east of the current terminal, on land owned by the Mexican government, which, according to studies carried out by federal authorities and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), meets the required technical, hydraulic and environmental specifications for operation and efficiency.

The extension of land is approximately 30,800 acres, of which approximately 11,400 will be devoted to the construction of the airport, while the rest will be used for green areas and water collection systems.

  1. Investment

The estimated investment for the MCIA is approximately 169 billion pesos (12.5 billion US dollars). Such amount is expected to be covered almost entirely by the income of the current airport (i.e. fees paid by the passengers and leases of commercial spaces).

  1. Operational Capacity

The construction and operation of the MCIA will be divided in two phases to maximize productivity and create temporary and permanent jobs but, primarily, to allow the air traffic operations to begin in increase in a steady pace.

  1. Phase I:

The first phase of construction and operations is expected to be concluded by 2018, with a capacity to transport 50 million passengers per year and an estimated 550,000 flight operations. MCIA will have three fully operational tarmacs (2 for commercial flights and 1 for authorities - security operations), with 94 boarding tunnels (at terminal) and 42 remote boarding doors.

  1. Phase II:

Once the first phase is operational, construction of the second phase will initiate. At its completion, the Federal Government foresees the MCIA will have the capacity to transport 120 million passengers and an estimated 1 million flight operations per year, using 6 fully operational tarmacs. It is expected to be completed by 2020.

Once both phases have been concluded, MCIA will be the largest airport in the world by number of passengers transported. The 120 million passengers expected represent four times the operations of the current airport.

  1. Jobs

The Mexican government expects that the construction of the MCIA will generate 120,000 direct jobs. At its completion, the employment ratio is estimated at 3,000 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs per million of passengers transported.

  1. Sustainability and environmental matters

MCIA will have a new metropolitan park of approximately 1650 acres that will constitute the main green area of eastern Mexico City.

It is expected that the construction will be LEED Platinum certified.

A portion of the energy will be generated through biogas, produced by deposits located near the MCIA.

Water collection systems will prevent floods in the nearby municipalities and neighborhoods.

The construction of the new MCIA will benefit in many ways business competitors. As the result, business opportunities will increase as follows:

  1. Public bids regarding its construction and support infrastructure.
  2. Public bids regarding products, transportation and services required for the construction of the MCIA.
  3. Increase of operational, passenger and cargo routes from/to Mexico City.
  4. Increase of airlines operations and higher frequency.
  5. Retail stores and commerce within and out of MCIA facilities.
  6. Logistics and transportation services providers will increase their operations.

The following video provides some details regarding the MCIA project. It is narrated by Norman Foster and Fernando Romero: