Thursday, September 4, 2014

México: Mexico City Airport Poised to Become Greenest, High-Tech Destination in the World

According to The Latin American Tribune, Mexico City International Airport is poised to become one of the greenest and high-tech destinations in the world, which will incorporate the symbols of the country amidst vivid colors.

The project, that aspires to become a model for future 21st Century airports, was designed by British architect Norman Foster who has also designed the Beijing and Hong Kong airports, along with Mexican Fernando Romero, son-in-law of Mexican tycoon and one of the richest men in the world, Carlos Slim.

The futuristic design, unanimously selected from eight proposals, incorporates sustainable technology and large commercial spaces.

The new terminal will have six runways and allow traffic of 120 million passengers annually, four times the capacity of the current airport.

The monumental project, to be built at a cost of more than $9 billion will replace the present airport inaugurated in 1929 that has reached its full capacity despite having been remodeled and expanded over the last few decades.

During the unveiling of the project on Wednesday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto explained that the airport is scheduled to open after his term ends in 2018, as his administration “will not have enough time to put the new international airport into operation.”

But he also said that “it is important for México to have a world-class airport,” adding that this decision was taken out of a sense of responsibility and not from a short-term perspective.

COMMENT: President Peña Nieto said that three runways will be constructed in the first phase to accommodate 50 million passengers annually which will go up to 120 million at the end of the second phase.

Foster said that although the project incorporates the experience of several monumental projects it “is the first of its kind in the world”.

Romero talked about the incorporation of Mexican symbols in the project, particularly the eagle and the serpent that adorns the country’s flag.

“The colors, the patterns are very special to México...and also the quality of monumentality in the works of earlier civilizations,” he said.

The green airport will have 24 water treatment plants, a waste processing system and natural ventilation, all with the purpose of reclaiming a degraded and densely populated area.

A metropolitan transport network serving the airport will be developed by the federal government, federal district and Estado de México state.

In 2002, then-president Vicente Fox tried to build a new airport in the town of San Salvador Atenco but a wave of violent protests by local inhabitants who rejected the expropriation of their land forced the government to cancel the project.

Fox’s successor, Felipe Calderón, opted for the construction of terminal 2 of Mexico City Airport on an investment of $655 million that opened in 2007, allowing it to expand it’s operations.

However, within seven years the airport reached a capacity of 32 million passengers and 393,000 flights each year, which forced Peña Nieto’s government to seek a longer-term solution that did not involve land expropriation.