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New Mexico President halts $13bn airport project


Mexico's newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has fulfilled a promise he made and has stopped construction of the $13 billion Mexico City airport under construction, reported Construction Dive.

Designed by British architecture firm Foster + Partners, along with partners FR-EE and NACO Airport Consultancy, the airport was to be one of the largest in the world with an 8-million-sq-ft terminal engineered for the project's lakebed soil.

At a January 3 press conference, Communications and Transport Minister Javier Jimenez Espriu said that “construction of the airport is officially suspended” and that the government was working to terminate the contracts of companies that had been engaged in work there, said the report citing Reuters.

The design team also specified prefabrication that would eliminate the need for the use of scaffolding. The airport, scheduled to open in 2020 and able to accommodate 66 million passengers a year, was to start off with three runways but expand to six by 2062, it stated.

The Leed Platinum project was designed to use solar power, collect rainwater and circulate fresh air through displacement ventilation. López Obrador said the country will convert a military air base north of Mexico City for commercial use instead, it added.

In a message from Lopez Obrador, he said the government already had 3 billion Mexican peso ($152.6 million) to modernize the existing airport.

When Lopez Obrador made the announcement about his intentions to halt construction of the airport back in October, the Mexican stock market took a hit in the billions, according to Reuters. At that time, the project was reported to be 30 per cent complete.

Based on the results of an informal referendum of approximately 1 per cent of Mexico's electorate, the country's President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would stop construction of the new $13 billion Mexico City Airport when he takes office, Reuters reported, despite the project being 30 per cent complete.

López Obrador said during his campaign that the new airport project was too expensive and tainted by corruption, said the report.

Current President Enrique Peña Nieto said construction will continue until he leaves office next month. López Obrador said the bonds used to back construction will still be guaranteed, but Peña Nieto said the $6 billion of bonds would have to be pre-paid if the project is cancelled, it added. 

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