Mexico City’s sinking Terminal 2 may need to be rebuilt

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  • Mexico City Aeromexico Freight
    Mexico City International Airport

    IATA/ICAO code:
    MEX/MMMX

    Country:
    Mexico

    CEO:
    Gerard Ferrando

    Number of passengers :
    36,056,614 (2021)

    Tracks :
    05R/23L – 3,900 m (12,795 ft) |05L/23R – 3,952 m (12,877 ft)

    Terminals:
    Terminal 1 | Terminal 2

Earlier this week, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he was studying the possibility of rebuilding Terminal 2 at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX), due to structural damage. If the Mexican authorities decided to embark on this project, it would heavily impact the daily operations of the largest airport in the country, and this would be particularly damaging for Aeromexico.

Structural damage

In a daily press conference, Mr. López Obrador said that the construction of MEX Terminal 2 was poorly done. He said the whole terminal was sinking so there was the possibility of having to rebuild everything entirely.

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Mexico City Terminal 2 was inaugurated in 2006 to deal with the airport’s continued saturation. It is widely used by Aeromexico and its partners Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines, as well as other carriers such as Copa Airlines, Aeromar and Wingo.

Mr. López Obrador said:

“There were mistakes. (These errors are significant enough) to order a technical and administrative audit. We need to figure out how to avoid the terminal to keep flowing and avoid any possible accidents.

Nevertheless, he also kept the possibility of making temporary arrangements at the terminal, leaving the possibility of rebuilding the whole project to the next administration. Mr. López Obrador is expected to complete his term in 2024.

Simple Flying has contacted Aeromexico for comment. The airline declined to comment.

Mexico City International Airport Terminal 2 may need to be rebuilt. Photo: Getty Images.

The impact

The closure of Terminal 2 would have a massive impact on the day-to-day operations of airlines serving Mexico City airport. About 46.5% of all flights that land or depart from MEX do so at Terminal 2.

Rebuilding the terminal would inevitably have a cascading effect on the Mexican airline industry. Most likely, a good part of the commercial services currently offered in MEX should be moved to Felipe Ángeles International Airport (NLU) or Toluca International Airport (TLC). These two hubs, located outside of Mexico City, are part of the metropolitan airport system and, along MEX, are currently able to receive approximately 70 million people annually. Nevertheless, NLU and TLC failed to attract enough passengers and airlines.


Aeromexico is the main operator of MEX Terminal 2. Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.

Moreover, moving a number of flights to either of these airports would prove difficult. First, Mexican airlines could not move any flights with the United States as their final destination away from MEX, as the country was downgraded to Category 2 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The four Mexican airlines that fly to the United States currently operate 301 weekly flights to that country from MEX, or 8.5% of total flights at the airport.

Second, moving any number of flights from MEX to NLU or TLC to solve T2 problems would create a cascade of problems for the airline industry. From main operations at two or three different airports to codeshare services, handling, ground and maintenance operations. Passengers would also be strongly impacted (more than they already are now; four out of ten flights are delayed this season in the MEX).


All in all, shutting down T2 to rebuild would be nothing short of an operational disaster.

If MEX’s T2 is closed, could some of the flights be moved to NLU or TLC? Photo: Daniel Martinez Garbuno | Single flight.

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What can happen?

Mr. López Obrador did not compromise to undertake this enormous task. He left the door open for subsequent administrations to take care of the problem, which is also not a relief, just a patch.

Ultimately, the T2 problem would have been solved by 2024 if the current government had continued to build the now abandoned Texcoco International Airport. This hub, located outside Mexico City, was supposed to take place on MEX as the region’s main hub.

What is your opinion on this scenario? Let us know in the comments below.

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