By Albert Kuan
Monterrey Airport Seeks to Become Mexico’s Next International Hub
Due to crowded skies stressing Mexico City’s Benito Juárez Airport, Monterrey International Airport in the northeast region of Mexico is seeking to become the next hub for the country and Latin America. The airport authority for Monterrey Airport, Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMA), announced it is seeking to position the airport as the main international hub for Mexico in light of the oversaturation seen in Mexico City’s airport.
“What we are looking for is to position the Monterrey airport as an alternative (to Mexico City),” Ricardo Dueñas, OMA’s director, said in a press statement.
“The government has been clear in seeking a process of decentralization of traffic, that is why we are betting. We want to make Monterrey the most important ‘hub’ in the country, or one of the most important.”
Benito Juárez Airport has been operating at maximum capacity for the past decade and is overwhelmed in its capacity to meet the high demand for flights. Its infrastructure is not enough to continue sustaining most of Mexico’s air operations.
Felipe Ángeles Airport, which opened last month, has been planned by the Mexican government to alleviate the load on Benito Juárez Airport, but there are doubts whether that would come to fruition.
The new airport has demonstrated its operational capacity and state-of-art facilities to become a large hub for both international and domestic travel, however, the Mexican government has been unsuccessful at attracting any foreign airlines to open service to the Mexico City gateway thus far.
Travelers out of the new airport have also noted the distance, difficulty and high cost to reach the airport. The airport currently only operates a small number of flights per day to a few destinations within the country.
Seeing this disadvantage and with already established flights to the U.S. and Europe, Monterrey Airport wants to become the next great connection center, above Mexico City, for departing, arriving and connecting travelers.
Dueñas highlighted OMA’s Master Development Plan for the airport which would invest more than 12 billion Mexican Pesos (approximately 592 million U.S. Dollars) in the next five years to upgrade and expand the airport in Mexico’s Nuevo León state.
Dueñas indicated that OMA wants to be part of the decentralization process of Benito Juárez Airport’s operations. For this reason, the group has put all its efforts into making Monterrey Airport one of the main airports in Mexico, if not the main one. Dueñas indicated that the efforts, expectations and investment plan are focused on meeting this goal.
The new infrastructure proposed by the plan for Monterrey airport would allow OMA to increase the airport’s flight slot capacity by 50 percent.
The airport authority’s plans have already been coming into fruition since last year with construction taking place to expand terminal space and facilities, widen roadways and establish fixed ground transportation to Monterrey’s city center.
Monterrey Airport will also soon be inaugurating a new concourse dedicated to low-cost carriers both domestic and international. Dueñas explained the new concourse is being dedicated to low-cost carriers as they have shown a faster recovery than full-service airlines during Covid-19, especially in Mexico.
Low-cost carriers currently represent three-quarters of the airport’s international and domestic traffic, with a majority of flights being operated by hometown carrier VivaAerobus. Volaris, the second-largest airline in Mexico, also operates a number of flights from the airport and maintains a crew base in Monterrey.
This year alone, Monterrey Airport has managed to secure twice-weekly service to Madrid, Spain through Aeromexico. In addition, two U.S. airlines – Spirit and Frontier – will start flying from Monterrey to connect with Las Vegas, Houston and Austin in June 2022. However, the airport also lost a non-stop Aeromexico connection to Seoul, South Korea, a one-way stopover from Mexico City, due to Covid-19.
With frequent service to different airports in the country, the only key player Monterrey Airport has to bring over to become a major international hub is Aeromexico. Aeromexico, however, has indicated its commitment to enhancing its position at Benito Juárez Airport and expanding its operations out of Mexico City.
However, nothing is off the table for Aeromexico as the airline has been known to reverse firm decisions made by its directors in the past. The airline at first rejected flying to Felipe Ángeles Airport saying there was virtually no demand there, but changed course a month before the airport’s opening in March, announcing flights to Mérida and Villahermosa. Subsequently, the airline announced flights to Puerto Vallarta less than a month after the airport’s opening.