Mexico wants to assuage China with airport

Mexico airport 2Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has two big infrastructure projects on his mind, one of which is a new Mexico City International Airport. The other, a high-speed train between Mexico City and the city of Queretaro, has been delayed indefinitely, according to a report by Reuters. The rail project was originally awarded to a consortium led by state-run China Railway Construction Corp., resulting in bad feelings by the Chinese toward the Mexican government.

To make up for the faux pas, the Mexican government hopes to involve some of China’s state-run contracting companies in the construction of the new airport. Construction on the new airport is expected to get underway this year.

“This is kind of paying a favor to the Chinese companies who were denied the Mexico-Queretaro train,” said Daniel Avila, a senior member of the Mexican Senate’s Asia-Pacific committee.

The US$9.2 billion project will be financed by public and private funds, have three runways and serve approximately 50 million passengers a year by 2020. A dedicated cargo facility is also mentioned in the plans, with capacity to handle 1.2 million tonnes of airfreight per year and room for 20 aircraft to be serviced simultaneously.

It could be a good fit since the chosen architect for the project, Norman Foster of the British firm Foster + Partners, designed Terminal 3 of Beijing’s airport. Reuters reported that the Chinese like the idea, but no decisions have been made as to which state-run companies would get the job. Some of the airport contracts have already been awarded, but many are still open for bid.

Because the new airport structure is designed to be one massive terminal housed under vast canopies of glass, it has been described as one of the most sustainable airport projects in the world (an artist's rendering from Foster + Partners is seen above). The architects say it will require fewer materials and less energy than the standard multi-building airport.

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