The presidential decision to cancel the Texcoco International Airport project (NAIM) will cost passengers at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) 196,350 million pesos.
The order of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to suspend the construction of the NAIM has caused a chain of irregularities that lawyers consider to violate the laws of the sector, to the extent that criminal liability for the crime of embezzlement could be established against the executing authorities.
The financial cost of President López Obrador’s whim to cancel the Texcoco airport is being financed directly by AICM passengers, who with their Airport Use Fees (TUA) are paying 196,350 million pesos of the debt left behind. the Mexico City Airport Group (GACM), the government concessionaire of the NAIM; and also indirectly by all Mexicans, who, through their taxes, finance the additional resources that are granted to the Benito Juárez airport so that it can continue operating.
The use of the TUA for something other than what is established in the AICM Master Development Program goes against the original purpose of the rate and represents a diversion of funds that violates the Airports Law and its regulations, say legal lawyers aeronautical, Rogelio Rodríguez Garduño and Pablo Casas Lías.
This diversion – signed for 30 years with the debt creditors of the Texcoco project – puts AICM users at risk due to the poor conditions of the main airport in Mexico and Latin America, due to the lack of economic resources to address defects and cover the operational and security requirements.
Alejo Botello, current Deputy Director of Finance of the AICM, admitted in an interview that he is concerned that a “serious” accident will happen in the “air” part of the airport (runways, planes, landings, and takeoffs) due to the lack of maintenance in its facilities.
According to the law, the maintenance, modernization, and investment of the AICM should be financially guaranteed by the TUA, but the use of this income to pay the debt caused by the decision of President López Obrador, causes the current Government to have to allocate resources from the Federal Budget to cover the airport’s deficits.
The cancellation of the NAIM was one of the main slogans of Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his presidential campaign in 2018, but as president-elect, he acknowledged that he was not convinced of putting an end to the great work that was being built in Texcoco.
In February 2023, the president revealed that after his victory in the 2018 presidential election, he requested Alfonso Romo, who would be his head of the Office of the Presidency; Carlos Urzúa, his first Secretary of the Treasury; and Javier Jiménez Espriú, who was appointed Secretary of Communications and Transportation; to prepare a detailed report to decide on the cancellation of the New Mexico City International Airport (NAIM).
The three agreed that the NAIM had to continue, he said. However, the next morning López Obrador announced the holding of a citizen consultation that would decide the future of one of the most important works of Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term.
The consultation, which lasted 3 days, was widely questioned by constitutionalists, businessmen, and analysts, for not having a legal basis to be binding. However, in October 2018, before being sworn in as president, López Obrador held a press conference in which he announced the results of the citizen consultation and announced the cancellation of the New Mexico City International Airport.
To suspend the project, “possible acts of corruption or property damage” were argued. To date, no type of complaint has been filed in this regard. Inconveniences were also expressed regarding the “physical and chemical conditions in the soil and subsoil that are unfavorable for the construction and maintenance of the airport.” In this regard, there were divergent positions from national and international specialists.
Today there is a Felipe Ángeles International Airport that only transported 2.6 million passengers in 2023; a Toluca Airport that has 400,000 fewer passengers than 10 years ago and a saturated Mexico City International Airport that bears the greatest consequence of the whim: double taxation of passengers and the risk of an accident for its users.
Although the order to end the Texcoco airport project was from President López Obrador, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit did not face the decision to absorb the debt owed to the bondholders.
For the construction of the NAIM, the Mexico City Airport Group (GACM), established by the government of former President Enrique Peña Nieto for its operation, contracted through Nacional Financiera, via international bondholders, a debt of 6,000 million Dollars.
When the project was canceled, $1.8 billion of the debt was repurchased with part of the private money that was no longer going to be spent on construction and that was in the Development Trust. There was then an outstanding debt of 4.2 billion dollars – plus interest – that today the AICM passengers pay – without much awareness of it.