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Mexico Puts the Brakes on Speeding Up Payment for Scrapped Airport

In the bustling heart of Mexico City, news has emerged that the Mexican government has done an about-face regarding an earlier plan to speed up settling a $4.2 billion debt. This eye-watering sum had been poured into bonds to build an airport on the city’s fringe, a project that was eventually axed. A top dog in the transport department let this cat out of the bag on a fine Friday.

The now-defunct Texcoco project was supposed to lift a weight off the aged airport in the capital, a relic from decades past. However, shortly after his 2018 victory, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador put a screeching halt to the new airport’s construction, calling it a money pit and a breeding ground for corruption.

His administration initially coughed up about $1.8 billion to settle part of the $6 billion bond used to finance the doomed Texcoco venture. The plan now, it seems, is to stay the course with the original repayment scheme for these long-term bonds.

Rogelio Jimenez Pons, the Deputy Transportation Minister, clarified, “The finance ministry has requested the status quo. So, that’s the order of the day.”

It was just a short while ago that Jimenez spilled the beans about the finance ministry mulling over a faster repayment schedule. The dough used to settle the bonds for the scrapped airport primarily comes from a usage fee levied by the existing Mexico City International Airport (AICM).

In a twist of events, the Navy will soon step into the shoes of the transportation ministry and take the reins of the AICM, as well as a few other airports. It had been previously suggested by Jimenez that the AICM would be handed over to the military brass, free from the bond repayment burden.

“Everything’s getting squared up in the same manner. No changes, no surprises,” Jimenez reinforced.

Once the Navy takes the wheel of the AICM – something Jimenez predicts will happen later this year – they may choose to haggle with the finance ministry over a bond buyback.

Lopez Obrador launched the more distant Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA) last year, a substitute for the Texcoco airport, which is situated on a military base.

Under his presidency, the armed forces have increasingly been given the green light to manage aviation activities.

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