Mexico City – Aviation industry groups are pressing Mexico’s government to reverse a January fee increase for international passengers arriving in Mexico City.
They said that the fee increase was hurting the airlines and the country’s economic-competitiveness.
The fee was raised by 25 per cent to 51.12 dollars per passenger this year to help finance a two billion dollars bond for the construction of a new Norman Foster-designed airport.
The new airport will entail 13.4 billion dollars development due to open in 2020.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the frontrunner candidate in Mexico’s July presidential election, has vowed to scrap it.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Latin America and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), which represent airlines, opposed the increase, saying it made the existing Mexico City airport less competitive.
The biggest Mexican airlines using the airport are AeroMexico, Interjet and Volaris. International airlines use it too.
The associations sent a letter to Deputy Transport Minister, Yuriria Mascott, and Deputy Finance Minister, Miguel Messmacher, last month, ALTA executive director Luis Felipe de Oliveira said on Thursday.
In the letter, the associations warned the fee hike could result in 1.7 million fewer passengers per year and lead to lower overall revenues, he said.
That would represent a drop of almost 11 per cent from the 15.8 million international passengers served by the Mexico City airport in 2017, according to airport data.
So far, he said, the associations had received no reply.
Mexico City’s international airport, the Ministry of Communications and Transportation and Finance Ministry did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
“The capacity of the current Mexico City airport is at near the top and that is hindering growth in the country and the region,” de Oliveira said.
“However, we believe there is a better way to finance the new airport.”
One alternative put forward by the associations would be to lower the fee to encourage international travel.
Passengers who spend money in airports generate not only revenues for airport stores, said de Oliveira, but also for the airport itself because it receives a portion of stores’ sales.
Mexico City competes with Panama City, Bogota and other airports in the U.S. for hub traffic. The associations argue the fee increase could weaken its competitiveness.
Mexico City International Airport lists the fee, which is charged in dollars as 44.07 dollars, and adds a 16 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT).
Since airports calculate and present their fees in different ways, direct comparisons are not straightforward.
But documents published by airports show that Mexico City’s fee for international passengers is higher than that of Latin American rivals and roughly twice that of some large European hubs.
Tocumen International Airport in Panama charges 40 dollars, while El Dorado International Airport in Bogota charges 38 dollars