New Plans for San Miguel Airfield May Yet Take Off
SUBHEAD: The proposed development site poses no threat to area flora and fauna, say officials
By Jesús Aguado
Guanajuato officials are currently in talks with an aerospace group about building an aeronautics complex that would host a private landing strip for private flights, a sport airplane manufacturing site, and a school for pilots and air stewards. The needed space for the project is 100 hectares—200 acres.
One of the three Guanajuato sites being considered for the complex is in San Miguel de Allende, according to City Council Secretary Gonzalo González. The two other communities being considered are León and Purísima del Rincón, he said.
San Miguel has many advantages over León or Purísima del Rincón, and one of those is that it is located between the León and Querétaro airports. “We are working on getting the land on the road to Querétaro,” González said. “It seems like we will situate the project here.”
The proposed development site poses no threat to area flora and fauna, González said, adding that the site is far from residential zones.
The airfield that never took flight
Although in 2011 the city approved the use of tax money to renovate the defunct 1930s-era San Julián Airfield’s landing strip, the work that was done did not end up meeting federal requirements by the General Department of Aeronautics, which did not authorize the airfield to open.
The currently abandoned airfield is located on the road to Los Rodríguez.
In a 2012 mayoral candidate interview, Mauricio Trejo told Atención that San Miguel could not grow its streets or services further and that tourism in town needed not more tourists but to focus on attracting tourists with greater buying power. “The airfield needs restoration to allow the landing of private flights. That would allow us to improve tourism in the city,” Trejo said.
Around that same time, Guanajuato Governor Miguel Márquez said that the airfield could eventually handle air taxis. Fernando Olivera, then secretary of tourist development, came up with the idea of using the airfield for domestic flights to major destinations within México.
In 2014, Trejo told Atención that a company designated by the General Department of Aeronautics was conducting three studies at the airfield. The results of these studies—soil compacting, wear and tear, and adherence—was to be handed over to the local administration.
At that time, the plan was to have the city council create a local company made up of members of the local administration and the private sector. This company would be in charge of getting permits from the General Department of Aeronautics to allow landing Pilatus, Caravan 206, and King Air 186 aircraft, among others, during the proposed airfield’s first development phase. Once the local company began operations, construction of a hangar and a control tower would begin, officials said, as would high-voltage-line electrical work, which would allow air taxi landings, “always respecting the regulations,” Trejo said.
The third phase of the airfield was to reach out “as far as imagination can take us,” Trejo said at the time. He also said that he did not want Sanmiguelenses to see or hear the airplanes. “There will be an inviolable entrance and exit into the airspace,” he said. He also emphasized that the city’s image would not be damaged by the airfield’s activity.
According to Trejo, the potential opportunities for San Miguel were “huge,” and he was already trying to attract specialized medical companies to invest in San Miguel, since the city would have a landing strip for air ambulances.
In 2015, after he was elected mayor, Ricardo Villarreal said, “the aerodrome is ready.” Governor Miguel Márquez said they would contract with an outside logistics company, known as a fixed base operator, so that people could arrive in San Miguel without problems. “We already have in the city the office of the National Institute of Migration and a military base, but we also need the Tax Administration Service (SAT),” he said. “We will work on it. I will not abandon the airfield that was paid for with the taxes of Guanajuatenses,” he promised.
Villarreal also said he would bring people in México successfully operating airfields to San Miguel. The city needed air bridges between destinations in México and the United States, he said at the time.
Future use of abandoned airfield unknown
Regardless of whether or not San Miguel is chosen as the site for this proposed aeronautics complex, González says that the city council is currently working on a management plan for the area in which the defunct San Julián Airfield is located. Those studies will redefine the future use of the abandoned airfield, he said, adding that the site could be used to build a community center or housing developments.