Airport News

Airport News

Mexico is reviewing design plans for a new MXP120 billion peso (USD$9.23 billion) Mexico City airport which will eventually have six runways and should begin operating by 2018, according to people familiar with the plan.

The new hub is due to replace the overstretched Benito Juarez Airport and would be built on the area of the Texcoco lake bed nearby, said two people with knowledge of the project.

The current airport, Latin America's second busiest after Sao Paulo's Guarulhos, exceeded maximum operating capacity more than 50 times in 2012, and a new one has been discussed for years.

"This situation implies a loss of competitiveness to foreign airports and on some occasions, security risks," President Enrique Pena Nieto's transport development plan says.

A handful of consortiums have submitted bids to design the airport, including one fronted by British architect Norman Foster and Fernando Romero, son-in-law of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, the billionaire's spokesman Arturo Elias said.

A winner should be announced in July, the sources said.

Spokesmen for Mexico's Transport Ministry and airport operator Airports and Auxiliary Services declined to comment.

Carlos Bussey, the ministry's director for highway projects, said at a conference last week that authorities have been studying solutions to the airport saturation problem.

"In the coming months, studies by international teams that have been working on alternatives will be made public," he said.

The airport master plan was developed by engineering consultancy group Arup and envisions four runways and one terminal serving 30 million passengers by 2018, the year in which it would replace the current airport, the sources said.

By 2060, the plan says, the site would include six runways and two terminals to handle 60 million passengers, they added. A train would link the terminals, documents showed.

A spokeswoman for Arup confirmed that the company is overseeing a master plan for the airport, noting that Mexican and international architects are competing to design the terminal building.

Participating firms were asked to sign 12-year non-disclosure agreements, government documents showed.

Competitors were invited to present their credentials in November. In January, the consortia were asked to submit market studies detailing design plans and costs by April.

The bid follows an attempt to build a new airport near the chosen site under ex-President Vicente Fox which met with violent protests, leading to the plan's cancellation in 2002.

Armed with machetes and Molotov cocktails, the demonstrators took 19 officials hostage after the government initially offered locals around $0.70 per square yard for land for the airport.

This time around the government has said it already owns land around the current airport, but not much else.

Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza has said work could begin this year on the project, which the government has said would be financed with private and public money.

Cranes and trucks can already be seen around the site.

The existing hub handled a record 31.5 million passengers in 2013, according to Airports Council International.

LONG queues and strict guidelines over liquids on board planes could soon be a thing of the past with the arrival of sophisticated bomb detection scanners at Dublin Airport.

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And baby food – an ongoing headache at security barriers for parents travelling with young children – can now be cross-checked without the need to open containers.

INSIGHT 100 Liquid Explosive Detection System (LEDS) uses laser-based technology to screen liquids, powders, aerosols and gels. It can investigate sealed containers for possible explosives within five seconds.


It's also possible to operate it in conjunction with standard X-ray security machines.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has purchased up to nine 'Insight 100' scanners – costing about €50,000 each – in a bid to make identifying liquids carried in hand luggage easier.

The device works by shining a laser beam directly at the bottle, which returns a spectrum of light. The scanner then cross-checks the container against a library of recognised dangerous liquids deemed as potential threats.

A foiled 2006 plot to blow up transatlantic flights leaving London for North America using explosives concealed in bottles led to restrictions on travellers taking drinks and toiletries on board planes.

EU guidelines stipulate that only liquids of 100ml, or less, are allowed on an aircraft. Thousands of containers that don't meet this ruling are abandoned every day at airports, resulting in lengthy queues at security.

But that could be set to change.

Industry experts envisage that emerging technologies will allow airports to end the ban in just 18 months, by 2016.

European airports are spending in excess of €150m in equipping passenger screening areas with the latest technology.

At present, any liquid items being transferred through another airport must be checked in these bomb detection devices.


The first phase of recent EU regulations is limited to the screening of 'transfer' duty free purchases carried in sealed bags, and liquids carried for medical and essential dietary purposes.

Baby foods are subject to this liquid detection also.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, the DAA said it had sufficient machines for the number of transferring passengers at the moment. "We keep this under review and, if required, we will purchase more as numbers increase."

Figures show that in the first three years of the ban, almost 33,000 items were surrendered to Dublin Airport security staff.

These included an estimated 4,000 bottles of wine, 6,500 bottles of spirits, 1,500 bottles of cream liquors, 14,600 bottles and cans of beer, 4,500 quarter bottles of wines and spirits. A further 750 perfume and body lotion gift sets were also seized.

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