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New Merida airport, linking to Maya Train, is proposed

Relocating the airport would give Merida 2 Mayan Train stations

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Fonatur chief Rogelio Jimenez Pons announces a conceptual plan to move Merida’s airport south to connect with the Mayan Train. Photo: Fonatur

Merida, Yucatan — A new international airport, in a location that would link it to the Mayan Train, was floated Tuesday by the head of Fonatur.

Rogelio Jimenez Pons, chief of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion, said that he is working on moving the Merida International Airport further south. A decision has not yet been reached on whether to go ahead with such an elaborate plan.

The Manuel Crescencio Rejon International Airport was first built in 1928, and has been remodeled and enlarged often since the late 1960s.

Its most recent major remodeling was in 2016, when the international arrivals space was doubled inside. A vastly more welcoming immigration, baggage claim and customs area was also unveiled.

Outside, at the airport’s entrance, a complex with two eight-story hotels, shopping and rental car stations are under construction.

But the idea of feeding airport passengers directly to a trans-peninsular train is appealing to Jiminez Ponz, who pointed out that the current airport, “although very successful, is already very difficult” to operate, crowded by the city’s urban sprawl.

If approved, Merida would have two Mayan Train stations: the airport’s, and a smaller one in or near the Centro. A specific Centro location has not been specified, although El Universal said it would be near the Paseo de Montejo.

The train-airport link in the south would also re-balance Merida’s lopsided growth, which favors the north, he said.

Jimenez Pons said that he has been in talks with Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal. Although the project is still in the conceptual phase, “we are already going in that direction, we can not hide that we are working on it,” he said.

Mexico City architect Enrique Norten would design the new airport, he also said.

Such a project would require 2,000 hectares and would be entirely financed by private real estate investors. Fonatur would only serve as a promoter.

Two specific parcels of land are under consideration, Pons told the audience at the third edition of Sustainable and Social Tourism Summit in Cancun.

Before the Mayan Train was announced, rumors persisted for years that a new airport would be built to the more affluent north, closer to coastal communities.

According to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation, Merida’s airport ranked fifth in the country in terms of passenger volume growth, with an annual rate of 11.9 percent in the first four months of 2019. It is only below Bajío (20.6 percent), Querétaro (17.4 percent), Ciudad Juárez (16.2 percent) and Oaxaca (13.1 percent).

With information from Sipse

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