On a sunny Friday morning this month, the outdoor plaza at Mexico City’s new Felipe Ángeles airport was so quiet you could hear insects chirping, suddenly interrupted by the roar of three F-5 fighter jets overhead.
The gleaming airport is the most visible sign of how Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reshaped aviation in Latin America’s second-largest economy — by inserting the military across the sector and trying to push airlines to use his new hub.
The process has put him at odds with domestic and international airlines and the US government, and so far has not attracted much passenger traffic. Inside the terminal, none of the 100 check-in desks had a queue, while at arrivals a recruiting office invited scarce passengers to join the military.
Old-school leftist López Obrador in 2019 tasked the defense ministry with building the airport at a cost of $5bn after canceling a partially built one designed by architect Norman Foster, claiming that the project was plagued by corruption. Felipe Ángeles opened to great fanfare last year.
The new airport — which is run by the army — is slick and airy but is also 44km from the city center, with limited ground connections. Airlines say they have to set ticket prices so low to fill plans that they struggle to make money.
Source: Financial Times