Concerns about air traffic saturation at Mexico City’s international airport have led to calls for a new airport going back at least 15 years. Disputes over the appropriate location for a new airport held up the project, and a 2012 expansion of the existing facility helped further delay the inevitable. In late 2014, however, the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a vast public works project to construct a massive, completely new airport that is driving much interest on the part of service contractors and suppliers of specialized equipment and materials.
Design and construction of the airport will be headed by UK-based Foster and Partners architects and the Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO) engineering firm. According to government officials, environmental and urban impact studies are underway, with construction scheduled to begin this year and conclude in 2019. Because the airport is planned to be built on a former lake bed, substantial water and soil management work will need to be done prior to construction. Approximately US$1 billion in drainage and water management projects are reportedly planned, including the expansion of nine bodies of water, construction of 90 miles of drainage canals and installation of 24 water treatment plants.
Estimates of the cost of the first phase of the new airport range from US$6 billion to US$13 billion. The Mexican government announced in July that a total of 21 tender packages will be issued for bids in three stages, beginning in September 2015. The tenders will be open to both domestic and foreign bidders. The first stage of tenders will include land leveling, sewer and runoff drainage systems, construction of foundations and the first three runways, electrical systems and the control tower. Plans call for an additional three runways to be added in the future. The second stage of tenders, to be issued in the first half of 2016, will focus on construction of the terminal buildings. The third stage will consist of construction of highway and access road connections as well as the airport’s parking facilities. In addition to the roadways, officials have stated that at least one metro rail line will be extended to the airport, and that a new additional metro line may be added as well.
In addition to the airport itself, the site’s integrated development plan calls for creation of an “aerotropolis” of support services and businesses. This area adjacent to the airport is projected to consist of 360 acres of development that would include an industrial park, hotels, shopping centers, a free-trade zone and offices. This portion of the airport project is planned to be built gradually beginning in 2015 and running through 2028.
While public attention is focused on the future airport, developers are also eyeing the site of the current airport as an opportunity for construction once the new site begins operations. Mexico City’s current airport covers 1,840 acres that will surely be repurposed, adding yet another boost to the demand for services, equipment and materials. A local architecture magazine held a contest to generate proposals for development of the site, and the Mexico City government plans to hold public forums over the coming months to address the topic of what to do with the enormous parcel of urban real estate. Regardless of the final outcome, the new airport and the future use of the existing airport are both beginning to generate major opportunities for developers, contractors and the producers of the machinery, equipment and supplies they need.