The Mexican government is looking to forcefully move all cargo operations out of Mexico City International Airport (MEX) in an attempt to ease the saturation levels in the country’s top hub. These operations will have to move to the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (NLU), despite the ongoing protests by the local airline industry and global bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Forcefully moving out of MEX

Last week, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that the government would look to relocate all cargo operations currently landing at MEX to the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport within the next 90 days. This would be done to “protect the safety of the operations,” he said in a press conference.

Nonetheless, relocating all cargo operations out of Mexico City International would only reduce around 3% of all yearly flights. Last year, of the over 363,000 flights MEX had, only 12,028 were for cargo flights only. Some airlines that operate cargo-only flights in Mexico City are Lufthansa Cargo, Cargolux, Qatar Airways, MasAir, and Aerounión, among others.

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A Cargolux Boeing 747

Photo: Guillermo Quiroz Martínez via @gquimar .

Mexico’s Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportations Ministry said that relocating all cargo operations would have several benefits beyond reducing the number of flights in MEX. It would also reduce the traffic jams in the city due to around 1,000 ground vehicles moving the cargo out of the airport. Likewise, the relocation of cargo flights would create less noise for the people living in the surroundings of Mexico City International.

Finally, NLU “is considered a viable option by the government because it has a correct and efficient infrastructure for cargo operations. Its design previewed an expansion capacity of up to three million tons per year when it reaches its maximum potential,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The Felipe Ángeles International Airport was inaugurated in March 2022. It is part of the metropolitan system of airports designed by the current government to ease the saturation levels at MEX. As of January 2023, NLU has 204 scheduled weekly flights, and MEX has 3,241.

A Lufthansa Cargo aircraft

Photo: InsectWorld/Shutterstock.

How has the airline industry reacted?

On Monday, IATA released a statement requesting the Mexican government to develop a joint plan with the airline industry to ease the relocation of all cargo operations out of Mexico City International. Peter Cerdá, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas, said,

“The majority of cargo operations in the Mexican market are currently handled at Mexico City International Airport. Neither the airlines nor the associated cargo supply chain can simply pack up and move to an alternative airport. This process involves complexity and must be well planned to avoid operational disruption. To do this, we need all stakeholders to work in a coordinated manner, ensuring the safe and efficient flow of cargo in and out of the country.”

If the Mexican government wants this relocation to be successful, several topics have not been addressed, such as third-party certifications (ACC3-RA3), which would allow transatlantic flights to Europe, and the completion of the ground infrastructure which would ease the connectivity in and out of the Felipe Ángeles International.

What do you think about this latest measure to increase the number of operations at the Felipe Ángeles International Airport? Let us know in the comments.


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