This 2023, Mexico City International Airport will be removed from the top 10 airports that move the most air cargo in the country. The AICM has been the most important cargo airport in the country for several years, however, the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, gave the order that all air cargo transportation had to close operations at the AICM and had to be transferred to another airport, giving the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA) as the first option, thanks to its proximity to the AICM.

About the decree

At the beginning of the year, the president of the country exposed the problems at the AICM, and due to the traffic, both by air and on the surrounding routes, he urged all national and international cargo operators to move their operations to the AIFA or to other airports in Mexico. Initially, 90 days were given to move their operations, requesting airlines and concessionaires a term of 180 to 360 days to be able to condition the facilities at AIFA.

The decree was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation last Thursday, February 2, in which the President declares the AICM closed for exclusive international domestic cargo operations, so that those aircraft that provide combined passenger and cargo service are exempted from this new prohibition. The deadline was extended to a maximum of 108 working days as of Friday, February 3, with Wednesday, July 5 of this year being the deadline for cargo companies to leave the AICM.

What does the government say?

The preliminary project was issued under the justification of the saturation of air space and the capacity of the buildings in terminals 1 and 2 of the Benito Juarez airport. At the same time, Lopez Obrador promises cargo airlines that the airport will be equipped with the necessary facilities for loading and unloading cargo within the agreed timeframe.

DHL will be the first company to operate at AIFA; its first cargo plane will arrive at the end of February and President Lopez Obrador will be there to receive it.

What do the carriers say?

Carriers and concessionaires express their disagreement with the decree, as they are affected in several ways:

  • According to the downgrade to category 2 by the FAA, it prevents Mexican operators from adding new routes.
  • Several airlines have the same support staff for cargo and passenger transportation, so moving to AIFA or another airport for cargo operations and staying at AICM for passenger flights will represent a double cost for the company.
  • The AIFA does not have the necessary facilities or personnel to perform customs clearance, so there will be a bottleneck and delay for the clearance of goods.
  • The Undersecretary of Infrastructure of Communications and Transportation (SICT) confirms that there will be a reduction of only 3% when moving cargo planes to another airport, since more than 60% of the merchandise is transported in aircrafts that provide combined service (passengers and cargo).
  • Companies are being forced to modify their supply chains, which would be reflected, at least temporarily, in higher final prices for consumers or a reduction in the supply of products that currently use the AICM for distribution.

AICM’s cargo development is more than 70 years in the making and a plan for growth was never thought of. The country is trying to recover from the economic and commercial aftermath of the COVID-19 confinement and must now face a change in its supply chains. Companies and airlines have a big challenge to face.