Airports in Mexico – 13 Years After Privatization

Every year millions of people visit Mexico’s Airports and the number of visitors is expected to increase rapidly. Major national and international airlines as well as charter airlines have direct or connecting flights to diverse destinations from Mexico every day. Now more than ever Mexico is easily accessible from almost every major city in the world. With first class shops, restaurants and services, Mexican Airports are well reliable when flying around the country.

An important parameter is the quantity of domestic air passenger traffic via the main national airports. In this context, Mexico City has been by far the airport most in demand in Mexico. In the first semester of 2010, for instance, the Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City recorded 7,574,100 passengers.

Being the busiest airport of Mexico, the Benito Juarez Airport has required the assistance of alternative airports like the case of Toluca. Additional infrastructure has also been a must: Just three years ago, the inauguration of the Terminal 2 increased the airport’s capacity by 40% by moving the operations of all the Sky Team members to it (except Air France and KLM). The Terminal 2 construction represented an investment close to US$750 million and together with the Terminal 1, Mexico City airport is the second busiest airport of Latin America, only behind Sao Paulo in Brazil.

During the first semester of 2011, the Mexico City airport registered 7,987,700 passengers. This is an increase of 413,600 (5.5%) over 2010. Other airports that recorded important increases in domestic air passenger traffic in 2011 were Monterrey (3.2%), Cancun (5.1%), Merida (4.6%) and Tuxcla Gutierrez in the state of Chiapas (28.4%).

The most significant decreases recorded in domestic air passenger traffic were Guadalajara (-3.3%), Tijuana (-2.4) Toluca (-24.4%) and Hermosillo (-2.2%). All of these statistics were from the first semester (January – June) of 2010 and 2011 and are illustrated in Exhibit 1.

The market share of domestic air traffic at the main airports is shown in Exhibit 2.

Taking the same period (January – June, 2011) to rank the main international air passenger traffic through the main airports in Mexico, interesting conclusions can be made from the following information. The busiest airport for international passengers is Cancun (5,520,200 passengers). It is followed by Mexico City (4,013,200 passengers), Guadalajara (1,114,000), Puerto Vallarta (1,135,600) and San Jose del Cabo (1,097,100). The market share of international air passenger traffic by main airports for the first semester of 2011 is shown in Exhibit 3.

The airports in Mexico are operated by five important groups. According to the Communications and Transport Secretariat of the Federal Government and other federal institutions, the Mexico City Airport is part of the GAM Group that includes also airports in near cities to the National Capital such as Toluca, Puebla, Cuernavaca and Queretaro. This group handles over 15 million passengers per year.

The other important Airport Groups for domestic passenger traffic are GAP (12 million passengers per year), OMA (9 million), ASUR (6.5 million), and other partnerships (2.8 million) and ASA (1.5 million).

Exhibit 4 illustrates the market share of the different private groups operating airports in Mexico.

For international air passenger traffic the most important group is Grupo ASUR with 5,656,700 passengers traveling during the first semester of 2011. Next comes the Mexico City Airport with 4,013,200 passengers, GAP recorded 3,775,600 travelers , OMA (933,100), other partnerships with 112,600 and ASA with 49,100 total international passengers as shown in Exhibit 5.

GAP (Aeroportuario Pacific Group) operates important touristic airports like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, Manzanillo, Tijuana and Guanajuato. OMA has the operation of 13 airports in nine states, being the Monterrey, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua their key regional and border centers.

ASUR (Southeast Airports Administrator) is the administrator of the most important touristic airport which is Cancun, along with other 9 airports located at Southeast Mexico like Cozumel, Huatulco, Merida and Veracruz. ASA is an independent government agency that operates 18 airports nationwide as well as 61 fuel stations and their main operations are at the Terminal 2 of the Mexico City’s Airport.

It is important to say that most of these Airport Groups have shown slight variations in their domestic air traffic compared with the previous year (2010).

This is reflected in Exhibit 6. This tendency is also seen in the international air traffic of the same Airport Groups.

(See Exhibit 7) Another important field of interest in the dynamics of airport operation is related to air cargo operations. During the first semester of this year (2011), for example, the busiest airport is still by far the Mexico City (Benito Juarez) Airport recording 41,746,700 tons. It is followed by Guadalajara (15,714,000 tons), San Luis Potosi (12,452,700 tons) and Tijuana (7,137,000 tons).

Exhibit 8 lists the market share for domestic air cargo for the main Mexican Airports.

For international air cargo, the top five airports are Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Toluca and most recently Queretaro. The data in Exhibit 9 shows the comparisons between 2010 and 2011 for the first semester (January – June) for both years.

Mexican airports were traditionally operated and managed by Mexico’s federal government. In 1998 Mexico decided to privatize the airports, which were bought by diverse investors, both domestic and international. The table in Exhibit 10 shows the main investors or stockholders of the various groups operating air terminals in Mexico.