Mexico (AFP) –
The Mexican government and the main local airlines agreed on Monday to reduce the operations of the busiest airport in the country and in Latin America by 25%, after an incident in which a commercial plane had to abort its landing to avoid colliding with another aircraft on the runway.
The agreement, reached after a meeting in which representatives of Defense, Navy and other sector actors also participated, seeks to reduce the ‘super-density’ of takeoffs and landings at the Benito Juárez airport, located in the eastern part of Mexico City, explained the Undersecretary of Communications, Rogelio Jiménez.
‘We established 12 months to get them down by 25% (operations), the airport has already been saturated and in terrible conditions for many decades,’ the official told the radio station Radio Formula.
Benito Juárez is the busiest airport on the continent, with a record movement of 50.3 million passengers in 2019 and 36 million in 2021. Mexico is also one of the 10 most visited countries by international tourists.
The incident with the aircraft occurred on Saturday night and precipitated the resignation of Víctor Hernández, director of Navigation Services, attached to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation.
In two videos broadcast by local media, the passenger aircraft, from the European manufacturer Airbus, is seen about to land, but suddenly resumes flight while another plane remained at the head of the runway.
It was not reported how many passengers were on the respective flights, from the Volaris company.
Regarding the incident, Jiménez confirmed that it was an error by the personnel in charge of air traffic control, but that the precise circumstances and the people involved are still being investigated.
He acknowledged that among the causes could be “the great workload” they face and that there is a “deficit of more than 250 controllers at the national level.”
– Migration to new airport –
Jiménez explained that the plan to reduce operations will begin between next August and September and will include passenger, cargo and charter flights.
It is contemplated that “the vast majority” will migrate to the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), which began operations on March 21, but where only a handful of airlines operate until now.
“It is the one that is better equipped and it is the one that can receive flights with greater efficiency,” added Jiménez.
The AIFA is one of the emblematic works of the government of the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador and its implementation has generated criticism from opponents, but also from experts who warn of the complications of operating two terminals in a city surrounded by mountains and with more than 2,200 meters of altitude.
Earlier, López Obrador ruled out that there are risks in the airspace of the capital.
“There is no danger, we are responsible and all the personnel who work in aviation are professional people, good people who do not want a misfortune,” assured the president in his usual morning conference.
Jiménez also ruled out that the cause of the incident was the redesign of the airspace that was carried out before the AIFA came into operation.
The resigning official was in charge of preparing the new air routes for the brand new terminal -located about 50 km from the megacity- and which seeks to remedy the saturation of the Benito Juárez.