SMA International Airport
By Jesús Aguado
The local government at last owns at least 20 hectares surrounding the San de Miguel Allende airfield. The next step is publishing a call to the private sector to invest more than 200 million pesos needed to have not just an airfield but the International Airport of San Miguel de Allende, which needs to start operating before 2019.
The government will not invest a single penny
During an interview with Atención San Miguel, Mayor Ricardo Villarreal assured that his administration has worked hard to impel the construction of the airport. First, he said, they had to recover the land, which was in possession of a nonprofit organization Amigos de la Aviación, AC. “Amigos de la Aviación was not investing in the project. The last works, the asphalting of the landing strip, was money from the state government. The nonprofit did not invest a single peso. We believe that those who want it to open should invest to make it happen,” Villarreal stated.
According to Villarreal’s information, his administration reviewed the documents of the airfield to find out that the administration was not the owner. It had just the possession, “and you cannot grant a concession or invest in something that is not yours,” he remarked. That is why the local government started the process to also get some other plots, which will grow the landing strip from 1500 to 1850 meters. In three weeks, Villarreal’s administration will have the legal ownership.
Mayor Villarreal said that the city council agreed to exchange several plots with owners that had spaces within the land, and now the area that would shelter the airport is made up of 20 hectares. After procuring the land, a study was conducted to see there was viability for not just an airfield, but an airport, The International Airport of San Miguel de Allende. It would be an airport that could receive direct flights from the IAH or HOU; DAL or DFW airports. The airport would have an appropriate landing strip, and FBO (Fixed Base Operations), immigration services, and a terminal.
A new Boulevard
The landing strip is not functional. It was closed in 2012 by the Direction of Civil Aeronautics because it has undulations. Now, the private sector should construct a brand new strip.
“Now the city council has to approve a call to those experts in aeronautics, to those interested in operating the airport. They have to be committed in exchange for the long-term-concession. The investment needs to be from the private sector, and the call will be open, but only the best will have the land,” remarked Mayor Villarreal.
The study conducted by the local administration estimates that 200 million pesos are needed to open the airport, and there are some groups already operating airports that are interested in making investment in that space. The strip has to be reconstructed, and that would cost up to 60 million pesos. Some towers from the Federal Commission of Electricity need to be removed and the cost could go from 15 to 20 million pesos. The rest of the money would go to the construction of hangars, the terminal. and purchase of equipment.
San Miguel will win with this airport said Villarreal, because tourism with a bigger buying power will come to the city and that will generate economic development. The concessionaires will fill in the forms to get the permits from the Direction of Civil Aeronautics.
Although the San Miguel de Allende International Airport would be situated in the upper area of the city, far from the inhabited areas and the Historic Center, Villarreal remarked regulations need to be planned in order to control the noise emissions. He said as well that it will not be an airport that will receive hundreds of flights like MEX. Villarreal also highlighted that San Miguel de Allende would be one of the first municipalities to have an airport of its own and not belonging to the federal government.
Villarreal concluded our interview saying that constructing and opening the airport was part of his Governmental Plan. “I will make it happen; we will open it and it will work,” he said.
The Celaya Airport (CYW)
Last September 2015, the state secretary of Touristic Development, Fernando Olivera Rocha, granted an interview to the paper El Financiero, in which he assured that with the growth of Honda and the construction in progress of Toyota, the arrival of private jets to CYW has increased. At that time, the arrival of 15 daily flights transporting people from the automotive companies was registered. He noted that on the weekends, people who attended weddings in San Miguel were also landing there.
The airport offers only landing services. Because the fees for landing go from 1000 to 2000 pesos, the income is low for the airport operators. The secretary said that this airport, which is responsible for the SMA airfield, could have more revenue if it would offer customs and migratory services, as well as fuel loading. The airport operators could make up to 35 thousand pesos per plane. This airport is the closest to San Miguel and has a 1900-meter-long landing strip. Aeromar, a Mexican airline company, used to offer round-trip flights from Celaya to Mexico City, Monterrey, Querétaro, and Ixtapa, but due to the low number of travelers, the service was canceled.
Villarreal said that Celaya is not as attractive as San Miguel de Allende, and the airport will succeed. If it is not rentable for the concessionaries, he assured, they can present a viable plan.
50 minutes to Paradise
The number of regional destinations that airlines offer from the Guanajuato International Airport (BJX) keeps growing. Currently, TAR (Transportes Aéreos Regionales) flies twice a week to Puerto Vallarta. Now it has added a new destination: Manzanillo, Colima.
On June 10, TAR announced that it will fly Monday through Friday at 2:45pm from León to Manzanillo. The flight lasts only 50 minutes. The operations will start on Monday, June 18.
BJX offers flights to nine national and six international destinations. Compared to 2012, the number of airlines offering flights from BJX has increased 67 percent