OMA's high-flying plans for 2023

Bnamericas Published: Monday, January 16, 2023
OMA's high-flying plans for 2023

Mexican airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMA) plans to invest some 3.4bn pesos (US$181mn) this year in a series of expansion and modernization projects for the 13 terminals it has under its concession.

The investment is part of a five-year plan involving 12bn pesos announced in 2020.

In addition, OMA is licking off 2023 with a new international majority partner that will bring greater benefits for the group, says OMA CEO Ricardo Dueñas, who expanded on the projects and goals for this year.

Also read: The 3 largest airport operators in Mexico will invest more than US$300mn in 2023

BNamericas: In 2020, OMA presented a five-year plan valued at 12bn pesos [US$597mn] to adapt its 13 terminals throughout the country. How has this plan evolved and what is the designated amount for this year?

Dueñas: The plans of the airport group are for five years. We are now in the third year of our plan. The plan that we announced for 12bn pesos is the largest in the history of OMA. Those 12bn pesos are at prices when they were announced in 2020, so if you update them and the amount is close to 15.6bn pesos.

How much are we going to invest at this year's prices? There are 3.4bn pesos that we’re going to invest just for 2023. The three main works are going to be the expansion of Monterrey airport in the state of Nuevo León, Culiacán airport in Sinaloa and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua.

BNamericas: At the end of 2022, the French private operator Vinci Airports announced that it completed the acquisition of Fintech's 29.99% stake in OMA, making it the main shareholder. What does this mean for the future of the Mexican group?

Dueñas: The transaction was closed on December 7 and Vinci acquired 29.99% of OMA's shares. It’s very good news for the company, I believe that for the country and for the sector and obviously for OMA it’s a new stage of the company to have a long-term investor. It’s one of the largest airport concessionaires in the world, and with OMA there are close to 70 airports worldwide and this is a huge opportunity for the group. It will allow us to bring the best practices at an international level within OMA and the development plans do not change, as you know they are approved every five years by the regulator and must be carried out punctually. The capex plan doesn’t change, but they will be very useful in helping us streamline and make all processes much more efficient.

BNamericas: Have you spoken with Vinci's representatives? What vision do they have for Mexico?

Dueñas: The five-year plan doesn’t change, which is from 2020 to 2025. They will be involved with us helping with the investment plan for the next five-year period, which we will have to start working on next year.

BNamericas: You mentioned three main projects in OMA's portfolio, the expansion of the Monterrey airport, Culiacán and Chihuahua. How are these works progressing?

Dueñas: The largest project at the moment is the one in Monterrey. There, we’re seeking to increase the current capacity of the airport by 50% to 16.5mn passengers. Right now we’re working on phase two, mainly the expansion of terminal A. This year we’re going to finish a new wing that will join what is now terminal C.

At Culiacán airport we’re looking to double the capacity of the current airport. We have also started with the executive projects, we already started with earthworks at the end of last year and this year we’re going to start with the construction of the expansion.

We’re also seeking to double the capacity of Ciudad Juárez airport. At the Ciudad Juárez airport we’ve seen a very significant growth in traffic, much of it due to the effects of nearshoring. For this year we’re looking to open a departures area that will be the first phase of the Ciudad Juárez airport, and the expansion of the terminal building is also advancing.

We’re also working on baggage claim areas at Durango airport and at Mazatlán airport in Sinaloa. We’re also working on new inspection points and new departure wings and we’re investing in all the other airports, in runways, in taxiing areas, in aprons, technologies. We’re adapting the terminals to the trends that we’re seeing, for example, what the pandemic left us. Many technological processes that were already being implemented are accelerating, passengers are increasingly seeing more agile processes, with less physical contact, facial recognition, etc. We’re adapting our terminals to the reality that we’re seeing today, where in Mexico almost 70% of air traffic is low-cost airlines that require some different needs than large airlines.

BNamericas: How do you handle the selection process for contractors or builders or material suppliers that work with you?

Dueñas: The processes are invitations, they are very formal processes through invitations and many contractors are contractors who have also been working for many years and we know they are reliable but we’re always looking to increase the list of contractors and we carry out competitive processes.

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