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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

If Mérida has a new airport, the old site should be for the people, says mayor

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Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Mayor Renán Barrera said he’s on board with Mérida’s new airport project, as long as the 600 hectares of the current airport are used for the benefit of the citizens.

“It is a good idea,” said the mayor, “as long as it is not a simple real estate deal.”

Aerial view of the Mérida airport. Photo: Courtesy

Barrera Concha noted that infrastructure projects such as new airports fall under the purview of state and federal authorities. However, he expressed great optimism regarding the city’s plans for the grounds of the existing airport.

“We have a project that will improve the city with 600 hectares for parks, green areas, recreational places, cultural and educational centers,” said the mayor.

The new airport will likely be integrated into the Mayan Train system, although its location has not been announced. 

Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila speculated that the project for the new airport will help the state earn back some of its pre-pandemic luster.

Current Mérida airport has undergone expansions and renovations recently. Photo: Courtesy

“The relocation of the Merida Airport is moving forward and will be carried out through significant private investment. It will contribute to the economic reactivation of the state and will bring diverse benefits to the Yucatecan population,” said Vila Dosal.

He emphasized that the state’s government will not make any investments for the relocation. 

The cost for the project has been estimated at around 10 billion pesos, which are said to come from private investors. Authorities claim that the relocation would generate around 8,000 jobs for the construction sector.

But critics are questioning the need for a new airport at all, especially given the size and capacity of the existing infrastructure. 

Mérida’s airport slowly welcomes more passengers. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida’s airport handles an annual average of 3 million passengers and 20 airlines. Yearly arrivals have increased by at least 15% in the last decade.

Just last year, a four-year plan coordinated by ASUR was being carried out in the current airport, with an investment of 2.5 billion pesos. 

The state’s economy suffered a hit after the first pandemic year. It saw a fall somewhere between 2 and 5% while extreme poverty grew from 6.5 to 11.3%.

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