Work winding down on Mexican airport following referendum

Construction work is slowing on Mexico City’s partially built international airport after a public poll in October last year delivered a verdict to axe the project.

"Construction work is officially suspended on that airport, and negotiations on the early termination of the contracts has begun," said Mexico’s transport minister Jimenez Espriu, quoted by Chinese news agency Xinhua.

However, Reuters quotes Gerardo Ferrando, the head of the government agency behind the project, as saying: "It is not a switch you can just turn on or off automatically, works need to be gradually finished."

Located in the drained Lake Texcoco, New Mexico International Airport (NAIM, in the Spanish abbreviation) was being spearheaded by firms owned by Carlos Slim, once the world’s richest man.

UK architect Foster + Partners had produced designs for NAIM (pictured), a third of which was said to have been completed.

The poll, labelled a "referendum", was called by president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador in August, following his victory in the July elections.

It offered a choice of endorsing NAIM, which would take over from Benito Juárez airport as the country’s main aviation hub, or keeping Juárez and adding runways to the Santa Lucía military base, 50km from Mexico City.

The vote was 70% in favour of cancelling NAIM, but only a million votes were cast among the country’s 130 million population.

Reuters reports that NAIM’s site could now be turned into a public park.

Image: Foster + Partners’ rendering of the airport

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