The importance of Mexico City’s International Airport
Mexico City’s Benito Juárez international Airport handled 26.2 million passenger movements last year, making it the world’s 43rd busiest terminal, according to the Airports Council International. In terms of flights, Mexico City airport was the world’s 30th busiest, with 366,000 take-offs and landings. For freight, it was the 48th largest in the world, with 376,000 tons of cargo going through it last year. The Airports Council International is a non-profit organization which serves as the “voice of the world’s airports”.
The numbers make Mexico City airport the most important in Latin America. The on-going modernization of Terminal 1 will expand the airport’s capacity to 32 million passenger movements a year. The airport has parking spaces for 6,514 vehicles, and is served by a metro line, city bus lines, and 1,485 licensed taxis (belonging to 7 different companies). The terminal is also served by 8 mid-distance bus lines, offering regular service to the cities of Córdoba, Cuernavaca, Pachuca, Puebla, Querétaro, Tlaxcala and Toluca.
Nationwide, of the roughly 50 million air passengers each year, about half are domestic and half international. Commercial air service started in Mexico in the 1920s. The main route was Mexico City–Tuxpan–Tampico–Brownsville, Texas. By the 1930s, flights were available to Los Angeles, Cuba, Guatemala and El Salvador. Jet services to USA and European cities started in the 1960s. The routes have expanded steadily and now connect Mexico’s 29 national and 57 international airports.
Mexico City’s airport accounts for about 35% of the national total number of passenger movements, followed by Cancún (10.5%), Guadalajara (almost 9%), Monterrey (7.4%), Tijuana (5.3%) and Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco) and San José del Cabo (Baja California Sur) each with 3.6%.
Mexico averages about 370 air passenger movements per year per 1000 population, compared to 2430 for the USA, 1400 for Canada, 202 for Brazil and 179 for Argentina. While air travel is growing, it remains a distant third behind automobile and bus travel.
Mexico’s transportation systems, including airports, are discussed in chapter 17 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.
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