MEXICO CITY.- This week the official announcement of what is expected to be Latin America's next, most important, international airport gave us a clear idea of the calibre of the project.
The New International Airport in Mexico City was presented during an event attended by federal representatives, architects, and other leaders from the nearby region, as well as President Enrique Peña Nieto, who highlighted the great changes that this project will bring to the region, including the amount of time invested in finding the perfect location and in designing a world class airport.
VIDEO: Images, concept, and history of the new airport
"Ever since the first day of this administration, I asked that studies be conducted to determine the best option for the new airport," said President Peña Nieto, adding that "we have brought together internationally and nationally recognized architects to come up with this design.
The topic of site selection was of special interest and was repeated throughout the night, in order to emphasize and prevent the type of protest that has undermined other attempts to construct a new airport in the region (the most recent attempt made by President Fox).
[p]In order to avoid this, the new airport will be constructed on Federal land.
It is anticipated that 160,000 will employed during the construction phase as well as hundreds of small and medium sized companies, and 600,000 permanent jobs will be directly and indirectly created to operate the finished airport.
The anticipated cost of the project will be 120 billion pesos (9 billion dlls), which includes the terminal and six landing strips with a capacity to receive 120 million passengers a year once the project has concluded.
The first stage will only include two landing strips and will be ready by 2018 with capacity for 50 million passengers a year.
[p]Norman Foster and Fernando Romero will be the architects in charge of the project, the first of British nationality and the second of Mexican nationality, resulting in a mix of modern and traditional native design elements.
Foster is well known for his other large scale designs around the world, from Apple stores to the restauration of the historical Reichstag buildiong in Berlín, as well as an enormous international terminal in Beijing, China.
Romero is son-in-law of telecomm magnate Carlos Slim Helu, the richest man in the world, whose most notably projects includes the design of Soumaya Museum in Mexico City. In collaboration with Foster, they will design an airport that combines standard modern elements with more monumental charactheristics of Mexican design.
[p]"Becuause of its magnitude, design, and social benefit, the new airport will be a transcendental project; an emblem of a modern Mexico." -President Peña Nieto
Both the federal government and the airport designers boast the fact that 70 percent of the water used at the airport will come from nearby treatment plants, and 100 percent of its energy will be derived from renewable sources, making this the first outside of Europe to be completeley carbon neutral (will not add more carbon dioxide than it saves).
The President also indicates that amongst other projects in the works is the restauration of the Metropolitan Park in the capital, as well as other infastructure projects.
The land of the current airport, Benito Juárez, will be partially recovered to benefit local residents, according to Gerardo Ruiz, head of the Secretary of Communications and Transportation, and will be converted to public parks.
Some residents of San Salvador Atenco in the past days announced that they will reactivate protests against construction of the new airport as they did during the administration of Vicente Fox, although this project will be constructed on public land in contrast to the former proposed project.
The website "Dinero En Imagen" yesterday published an analysis from various civil aviation experts, that expressed the real necessity to build an airport with greater capacity in the capital, but also questioned the location which some experts state will be constructed on unstable ground as well as limited ground accesibility to the area.