Mexico's government has chosen Texcoco in Mexico state as the site for the new Mexico City international airport, transport & communications minister Pedro Cerisola told reporters.
Texcoco beat rival candidate Tizayuca in Hidalgo state for the right to host the new airport, despite a spirited - and sometimes heated - campaign by Hidalgo businessmen and politicians, who raised fears about Texcoco's environmental sensitivity, ground suitability (Texcoco is a former lake) and proximity to the volcano Popocatepetl.
After deliberating all year, Mexico's President Vicente Fox and the SCT declared in favor of Texcoco, citing greater capacity, closer proximity to Mexico City, and advanced planning, as Texcoco has been mooted as a potential site for an international airport since the 1960s.
"We are certain that this [the Texcoco site] is the only path that will allow us to go forward as a nation," Cerisola said.
The current site of the Mexico City international airport in the city's eastern suburbs has served since 1910, and has adapted to increased demand by a steady number of expansions and "improvisations," but is now reaching the end of its useful life, where no more expansions are practical, the minister added.
Once the Texcoco site is operational, the current airport will continue to service domestic flights.
Air traffic for Mexico is expected to increase by 34% by 2005, 77% by 2010 and 108% by 2015 compared to today's levels, Cerisola said, although these figures were calculated before the September 11 attacks in the US, which have hit traffic.
A large number of independent experts and institutions were consulted before the government made its decision, the minister added. The Environment & Natural Resources Ministry (Semarnat) carried out environmental assessment of both Tizayuca and Texcoco.
The National Autonomous University (UNAM) carried out soil testing. The national public works bank Banobras assessed the economic potential of both sites' plans. the National Water Commission (CNA) evaluated the sites' hydrography and drainage qualities, while other experts were consulted on the sites' geological and volcanic properties.
The start date for construction of the new airport will be announced once financing is in place, the minister said, for which the federal government has already set up a fund under the jurisdiction of the national airport authority (ASA). He declined to give a specific date.