Ana María García Ceceña, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Law Clinic at the Tec, analyzes projects that the new airport needs.
Guadalupe Piña’s doradita stand went viral during the inauguration of the new “Felipe Ángeles” International Airport (AIFA) on March 21. Her presence raises a necessary question: What public-facing entrepreneurship does this mega-project need?
Ana María García Ceceña, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Law Clinic at Tec de Monterrey’s School of Social Sciences and Government, analyzes the possibilities.
The AIFA was created to mitigate the congestion of the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) and strengthen the country’s flight system. However, there are additional projects that can be created around the original one which were perhaps not included in the government budget or were rejected.
“Public-facing businesses are a set of opportunities that attempt to take advantage of a project beyond the resources budgeted by the government and seek to address social issues,” explains Ana María García.
Public policy experts within the governmental apparatus –and outside it– are in charge of identifying these issues, but this process occurs before the creation of a public policy, at a stage prior to design and even prior to going through an evaluation.
The prospects evaluated are any commercial activities in addition to or in conjunction with flights, such as food, transportation, and security. Normally, they are awarded through a bidding process.
“In the case of the AIFA, this diagnosis fell short because –although the inauguration and the first flight were well publicized– there were several things that were done very quickly, such as the doradita stand.”
In this case, if the plan is to open the door to this type of trade, it should have been done in a much more organized way, explains the specialist, who describes some of the possible solutions:
By setting up markets, traders from the Santa Lucía area and the municipality of Zumpango could be allowed to take turns or be assigned a spot.
“This type of public-facing business would benefit local residents by giving them the opportunity to be inside the airport, but these are proposals that need to be analyzed over time.”
According to an announcement on March 21 from the Governor of the State of Mexico, Alfredo del Mazo, the new airport will have five main access roads: Circuito Exterior Mexiquense, Mexibus, Autopista Siervo de la Nación, Oriente, and Río de los Remedios.
According to government information, Mexibús is expected to start transporting passengers to the AIFA in the second half of 2022, and the extension of the Suburban Train from Lechería to Santa Lucía will open in 2023.
What’s more, six bus lines have confirmed their services from Mexico City to the AIFA: Caminante, Primera Plus, Pullman de Morelos, A.D.O., Estrella Roja, and Estrella Blanca.
“Running an airport is a matter of urban planning. However, nothing has been said about new bus routes or a re-allocation of subway lines. This part is very important to the airport’s operation,” she says.
The federal government has estimated that about 60% of the 20 million users per year who use the air terminal will arrive by car. However, 40% will –probably– go on public transportation.
“The issue of transportation is important for everyone so that people have other alternatives to get there if a route is closed. At Mexico City’s International Airport, there is a subway line that takes you directly to the airport, and it’s precisely this fluidity that should exist for a new airport,” she explains.
A plane arriving at the new General Felipe Ángeles International Airport in Zumpango, State of Mexico, on March 21, 2021. (Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP)
“What is the area around the airport like?” asks García Ceceña. Thinking of public-facing businesses in terms of distance, there are innumerable options five or six kilometers away. However, we need to first consider the closest ones.
Before starting the work, the environment must be improved: Do we know the number of common crime incidents in the area, the times the flights will be scheduled, and whether there will be enough light?
At the Toluca airport, there were flights at 6:00 in the morning, so that meant you had to board at 5:30 and arrive at the airport at 4:30. “It was a fairly dark place, and that’s exactly what needs to be evaluated, the light conditions, how much mobility there is,” she explains.
What can users do if their flight is delayed at the AIFA? “This is a very basic situation, but we need to have an answer. There must be a place to eat, accommodation, the basics. Are there any?” asks the expert.
These basic services would be followed by the creation of a hotel and commercial zone outside the airport. In addition, we need to think of a design in which aircraft pollution and traffic around the area is mitigated.
“Ideally, the airport would’ve planned ahead for all the basic needs of these public-facing businesses, but what can be done now?”
The specialist recommends putting all innovative ideas on the political agenda through civil societies, organizations, and the press.
“I’d recommend demanding our rights through our federal or local deputies. They can always send proposals, and in this type of situation, a collective voice is a much more efficient solution than any of the others we might have at hand,” she says.
In addition, Tecnológico de Monterrey has access to the Laboratory for Entrepreneurship and Transformation (LET). “Here, you can learn a little more about these ventures and reach out to those who are interested in developing these types of projects,” she concludes.