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Mexico's New International Airport - Felipe Angeles

Mexico’s newest international airport is slated to open March 21, 2022. However, some serious questions remain about it’s effectiveness and whether even having it is a good idea. 

For travelers who want to visit Mexico, this new airport may become significantly more interesting to them. Here’s what people need to know before they decide where to fly.

Why Did Mexico Choose to Build This Airport Now?

Mexico needs a new international airport within reach of Mexico City because the current airports are overwhelmed with traffic or too far away to be very useful.

Benito Juarez airport is currently the only airport in or near Mexico City. It sees a nearly overwhelming amount of air traffic and often gets busy and backed up.

Mexico had planned to build Texcoco Airport within 25 km of the city, but the project was canceled before it got off the ground.

Besides that, the nearest airports are Toluca Airport, located 60 km away in Toluca, and General Mariano Matamoros Airport, 105 km away in Cuernavaca. 

Clearly, something else needed to be built to take the pressure off the only airport in Mexico City.

That’s where Felipe Angeles Airport (aka NLU) comes in. It is only 45 km away from Mexico City, offering easier access to the city than other locations.

What are the Downsides of General Felipe Angeles Airport?

There is some skepticism that building NLU was a wise choice.

Are There Routes to Support It?

First of all, air travel is down around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that there are fewer people traveling to Mexico. 

In addition, while some Mexican airlines believe there is a market for more air travel in the area, the airport will currently only serve a few routes.

These include daily flights to Tijuana and Cancun on Volaris and routes to Monterrey and Guadalajara on VivaAerobus.

A Colombian airline, Conviasa, is also interested in developing routes to and from the airport. However, many other potential carriers are not planning to fly into or out of it for a long time.

It Cannot Currently Offer Flights to the USA

However, the airport cannot currently have passenger flights to the United States or codeshare with United States carriers. (There are a few freight lines to the US set to run out of NLU.)

That’s because, in May of 2021, the United States Federal Department of Aviation downgraded Mexico from a Category 1 location to a Category 2 location.

They performed an assessment that concluded that Mexico’s aviation authority could not meet some of the safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Until Mexico can rectify this situation, NLU will likely remain a national or regional hub, rather than seeing its full potential as an international airport.

It is Close to Mexico City…But Hard to Actually Get There

Even if people do use the airport as it was intended, they may have trouble getting around Mexico once they arrive. 

There are no easy ways to actually access Mexico City (or any other final destination) from General Felipe Angeles Airport.

The country is working on this problem, but it could be years before they develop the infrastructure to support the airport working at its full potential.

Airspace and Other Issues

There are also potential airspace management issues. With other airports so close by, shared airspace may be a problem.

In addition, the airport is built next to an air force base. It will also need to share airspace with those aircraft.

Speaking of that air force base, the new airport will be run by the military. They will manage all aspects of the airport.

It remains to be seen if this is a viable way of running an airport. It does, however, allow Mexico to feed money from the nation’s budget into the project, rather than taking on debt to build it.

The Airport of the Future?

Despite all of these potential problems, this airport could open Mexico up to even more travelers, particularly to tourists who like to travel off the beaten path.

More airport space means that people won’t dread flying through Mexico City so much, because it won’t be such an awful experience.

This alone has the potential to boost tourism to central Mexico, which is sometimes overlooked as a tourist destination.

Additionally, connecting flights to tourist areas, like Cancun and Cozumel, could make this airport a hub for tourists who don’t like the congestion associated with a major airport. 

As the world rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism is supposed to become more popular again.

This will no doubt bring more routes to Felipe Angeles, even if it does take them a while to get routes to and from the US again.

Maybe, by the time the routes are there, the necessary infrastructure for easy travel will be there, too!

In addition, this airport could become a hub for business travelers who need to get to Mexico City.

If they can get there without the hassle of the bigger airport, they may be more likely to include the country in their next business venture.

Finally, NLU may become an airport for locals. Many times, locals prefer airports that are smaller and less of a hassle to navigate, especially if they travel often.

They can let tourists use Benito Juarez, while reserving their dollars for an airport that might be out of the way, but that is easier to use and that can learn to cater to the local traveler.

Felipe Angeles Airport may become a hidden gem among airports, offering easy access to Mexico without a lot of hassle.

Eventually, this airport could see routes stretching across Mexico and the local areas, as well as into major cities in the USA and even beyond.  

Sometimes, it takes a person with vision to see a project through under trying circumstances and through unclear situations.

Mexico has followed through with building Felipe Angeles Airport. Now, they need to wait, let the pandemic subside, and slowly build it to its full potential.

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