EconomyFinancialThe bad streak of the AICM: the airport has...

The bad streak of the AICM: the airport has reported incidents, a pothole and the closure of runways in less than 4 months

The International Airport of Mexico City (AICM) has spun several months of problems that have affected airlines and users, and that seem not to give in. The incidents stem from various factors, ranging from the training of personnel in charge of air traffic control in the region to failures of origin in terms of infrastructure, which are accentuated as the airline industry recovers from the worst crisis of its history caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a traffic of 50.3 million passengers in 2019 , the AICM remains the largest airport in the country. But despite the increase in routes and frequencies by airlines, it has not yet recovered pre-pandemic levels.

In June, the complex served almost 3.5 million users, 18% less than in the same period of 2019. The domestic market is the one that has recovered the most, as it is 86% of the passengers prior to the health contingency , while the international segment is still three quarters away from normalizing.

In this environment, the problems in the AICM have not ceased, both inside and in the airspace that surrounds it.

March 4 – The new declaration of saturation

The overcapacity of the AICM is not a new issue. In fact, since 2014 it was indicated by the then General Directorate of Civil Aviation (today the Federal Civil Aviation Agency, AFAC ), which issued a declaration of saturation of the airfield, since at various times the airport exceeded the technical limit of 61 operations. per hour.

However, to this was added a new declaration of saturation of the two AICM terminals, issued by the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT) last May, for which it was instructed, among other actions, that the Coordinator of AICM Schedules review and, if applicable, modify the general bases for the assignment of landing and take-off times.

Part of the resolution also requested the General Directorate of Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (SENEAM) to issue an official letter to analyze, and if necessary, modify the AICM’s operational capacity opinion “so that it takes taking into account the new airport infrastructure”, as reported a few weeks after the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) was inaugurated.

May 5 – The call of the pilots for airspace

The Federation of Airline Pilots Associations ( IFALPA ) issued a security bulletin regarding the entry into operations of the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) and its simultaneous operation with the AICM, in which it reported “incidents” for which it indicated the “little training” given to air traffic control personnel to operate in the new airspace layout.

“It is recommended that crews consider carrying additional fuel to allow for prolonged waiting and possible diversions,” IFALPA said in a statement. “If you receive an indication that you consider questionable, resolve it for your consideration,” he added about the actions of the pilots in these cases.

A few weeks later, on May 31, he issued a new bulletin pointing out the politicization of the airline industry, which also occurred a few days after the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA , for its acronym in English) postponed a new visit of technical revision for the recovery of the Category 1 of the aerial security.

“For IFALPA and the global aviation industry, safety is not negotiable and should not be influenced by political agendas ”, said Captain Jack Netskar, president of IFALPA, in a letter sent to the secretary of the interior, Adán Augusto López Hernández, the Secretary of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation, Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal, and the Undersecretary of Transportation Rogelio Jiménez Pons.

May 7 – Volaris Approach Incident

Two days after the IFALPA bulletin, a video circulated on social networks of an approach incident involving two Volaris flights: VOC 4069, which was going to take off for Guatemala, and which entered the runway where it was I found flight VOI 799, coming from Mazatlán, Sinaloa.

“Thanks to their impeccable monitoring of the processes, no passenger or crew member was at risk during the situation reported at the #AICM on the night of May 7,” Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Volaris , posted on Twitter a day after the event. . “In compliance with the protocols, I immediately requested an investigation from our Operational Safety area, as well as from the aeronautical authorities.”

One day after the incident, Víctor Hernández, director of Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space ( Seneam ), resigned from his position.

May 9 – The uncovering of more incidents

Two days after the Volaris incident, Alfredo Covarrubias, general secretary of the National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (Sinacta) , reported that in recent months there had been at least 30 “serious” air incidents in Mexico, of which 10 had happened in Mexico City.

“The restructuring of airspace involves not only airlines and routes, but also has to do with flow control services. The service that was working well with the previous procedures on this occasion did not pay much attention to flow control, and they have put people who do not work, and from there the problem of AICM saturation and the generation of delays begins, because the controller of flow must make blocks so that no hour is saturated”, he warned at a press conference.

July 7 – Departure of the CEO

Carlos Morán Moguel , who had served as general director of the AICM since the beginning of the year, was replaced six months after the start of his term by Carlos Ignacio Velázquez Tiscareño , a retired aviator pilot vice-admiral.

Velázquez Tiscareño’s entry was made “by instructions of the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” the SICT reported in a statement.

Morán Moguel was appointed as director of the AICM after leaving the undersecretary of transport of the SICT, that Rogelio Jiménez Pons (who was previously in charge of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, Fonatur) replaced him in January of this year.

July 21 – Tracks closed for maintenance

The two AICM runways have been closed on several occasions for maintenance work. According to the airport, the abundant amount of rains of the season and the constant landing of planes have caused the detachment of gravel in the touch zone of the aircraft on the runway.

According to the AICM, due to these works, 35 flights were delayed , and three more were cancelled .

In addition, from July 26 to 31 from 11:00 p.m. to 5:50 a.m., runway 05L/23R was scheduled to be closed for maintenance.

July 25 – “It was a pothole, not a crater”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador starred in an incident at the AICM. During the morning conference on July 25, he said that the plane in which he was returning to CDMX from his tour of Jalisco and Nayarit had to go one more time because he could not land.

The president explained that the explanation given to the passengers by the pilot was that one of the runways was closed because they found a “crater” in it. But

The AICM then reported on the closure of one of its two runways due to repair work on an “emerging pothole”.

July 27 – Rebuild Terminal 2

The most recent problem of the AICM now lies in Terminal 2 . President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pointed out that due to original structural damage, various works are required, and he even proposed rebuilding the complex inaugurated in 2007.

“One possibility is to do it again because it is a serious structural failure, there are differential collapses, and the other is to prop it up. I am going to ask the technicians, there is already a group that is working, that we see the possibility of strengthening it and that another government makes a substantive decision, for what it means for us as an investment and I do not want to leave anything unfinished , but we are analyzing the possibilities that exist”, he said in his morning conference on July 27.

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