Airline industry body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has criticized the Mexican government’s decision to cut flight capacity at Mexico City’s main airport.
IATA has declared that it questions the government’s decision to reduce flight capacity at Mexico City International Airport (MEX) from 52 landings and takeoffs to 43 per hour, saying that the measure will have negative effects on several stakeholder groups, including passengers.
In addition, the measure will affect “air operations, connectivity, tourism, and competitiveness, as well as the fulfillment of the international commitments promised by the country,” according to the IATA’s statement of August 31, 2023.
Peter Cerdá, Regional Vice President for Americas at IATA, said: “These measures must be taken with the greatest technical and operational rigor, based on expert studies and analysis. In this case, we question the methodology used by SENEAM, AFAC, and [MEX] to determine the airport’s capacity.”
IATA added that the decision was made without using proper industry practices, which “state capacity changes must be made through collaborative processes among all stakeholders, to ensure transparency, predictability, and certainty”.
Furthermore, the association pointed out that the Mexican government had already cut the flight capacity at MEX from 62 to 52 landings and takeoffs per hour in 2022. At that time, according to IATA, the government cited airspace limitations.
“This contradicts the study carried out in 2018 by the same government, which confirmed the viability of safely operating a maximum of 72 operations per hour,” IATA noted.
The association also highlighted Mexico’s previous decisions to move all cargo operations to Mexico City’s newly built airport, Felipe Ángeles International Airport (NLU), at short notice. The move forced the United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT) to suspend a review of the proposed US-based Allegiant Airlines and Mexico’s VivaAerobus joint venture, with the DOT citing “outstanding questions relating to the continued implementation of the U.S.-Mexico air transportation agreement”.
“Finally, the priority for the Mexican government should be focused on the recovery of the FAA Category 1,” the association continued. It also suggested that the FAA’s decision to essentially disallow Mexico-based airlines to increase the number of direct flights to the US has had a significant negative impact, “with the loss of connectivity, increase in ticket prices, and the competitiveness of Mexican airlines”.
Thus, IATA concluded that it rejected the “worrying” measure, reiterating the association’s willingness to work with the government to “continue making a difference in the lives of Mexicans and contribute our experience in the proper functioning of the [MEX] and its operations”.
The Mexican government announced its decision on August 31, 2023. The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation said that, after two specialized studies looking into the capacity of service levels of terminals 1 and 2, as well as the airspace capacity of MEX, it was safeguarding passengers and operators of the airport.
“This measure will be temporary and will be maintained as long as saturation conditions prevail at the [MEX], thus ensuring compliance with international service and safety standards for passengers,” the Ministry’s statement read.