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Mexican Military Takes Control of Airports in Anti-Corruption Effort

by Lucas Garcia
5 comments
airport control

In an effort to combat corruption and mismanagement, Mexico’s armed forces are assuming control of the main airport in the capital, with plans to extend military oversight to nearly a dozen other airports across the country.

Since assuming office in 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has assigned various nontraditional tasks to the armed forces, raising concerns about the separation between the military and civilian life.

A new airport, constructed by the army outside Mexico City at a cost of $4.1 billion, has been operational for a year but remains underutilized. The president intends to transfer control of the country’s busiest airport, the old airport, to the navy.

In a bid to address the long-standing issues at Mexico City Airport, which include major drug shipments, illegal migration, infrastructure disrepair, and instances of corruption, the navy assumed security responsibilities at the airport over a year ago. A forthcoming presidential order will make this transfer official, granting the navy control over customs, immigration, luggage handling, and cleanliness.

While López Obrador has repeatedly sought assistance from the armed forces throughout his tenure, assigning them immigration duties, control of ports and customs, and even infrastructure projects like a tourist train and a new airport, the current move to involve the military in civilian airports challenges international aviation recommendations that advocate for a clear distinction between military and civilian authorities.

The navy plans to establish a company called Casiopea to manage Mexico City Airport and six other airports suffering from deficiencies and control by organized crime, including Matamoros and Playa del Carmen.

López Obrador aims to transfer a total of 12 airports to the army or navy by the end of his term in 2024. Additionally, the military is set to commence operation of its own commercial airline later this year.

Experts acknowledge that while navy operational control may address certain security issues, it is unlikely to resolve other problems. In 2021, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating, leading to restrictions on Mexican airlines’ expansion of flights to the U.S.

The move to involve the military in airport operations comes in response to rampant corruption that has allowed drug shipments to pass through airports unhindered. Mexican aviation needs substantial improvements, including increased funding, training, and inspection protocols, to enhance its global competitiveness. However, it remains uncertain if the military’s involvement will fully resolve these challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about airport control

What is the reason behind the Mexican military taking control of airports?

The Mexican military is taking control of airports as part of President López Obrador’s efforts to combat corruption and mismanagement in the aviation sector.

How is President López Obrador involving the armed forces in nontraditional tasks?

Since his election in 2018, President López Obrador has assigned various nontraditional tasks to the armed forces, including immigration duties, control of ports and customs, and involvement in infrastructure projects.

What are some of the issues at Mexico City Airport that led to the military’s involvement?

Mexico City Airport has faced issues such as major drug shipments, illegal migration, infrastructure disrepair, stolen luggage, mismanaged airline schedules, business without contracts, and corruption.

Will the military take over other airports in Mexico?

Yes, the plan is for the military to take control of nearly a dozen more airports across the country by the end of President López Obrador’s term in 2024.

How does this move impact international aviation recommendations?

The involvement of the military in civilian airports challenges international aviation recommendations that advocate for a clear distinction between military and civilian authorities.

What are the potential implications of the military’s control over airports?

While navy operational control may address certain security issues, experts express doubts about whether it will fully resolve other problems. Additionally, there may be legal and operational consequences associated with military involvement in civilian aviation.

How does this move affect aviation safety in Mexico?

The move comes after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating in 2021, which led to restrictions on Mexican airlines’ expansion of flights to the U.S. The impact of the military’s involvement on aviation safety remains to be seen.

What other measures are needed to improve Mexican aviation?

Experts suggest that Mexican aviation needs additional funding, training, inspection regimes, and other measures to enhance its competitiveness on the global stage. The military’s involvement may not be a comprehensive solution to these challenges.

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5 comments

AviationGeek76 July 10, 2023 - 10:45 am

This move could have serious consequences for aviation safety. International recommendations clearly separate military and civilian operations. It’s risky business when you mix ’em up. Let’s see how this unfolds.

Reply
NewsJunkie101 July 10, 2023 - 11:27 am

This is just another power move by President López Obrador. He’s been consolidating control since day one. But involving the military in civilian airports? That raises some serious questions about the separation of powers.

Reply
WanderlustJane July 10, 2023 - 12:47 pm

I’ve had my fair share of flight delays and lost luggage at Mexico City Airport. If the navy can bring some order and discipline, that would be a welcome change. Fingers crossed for smoother travel experiences!

Reply
Anon123 July 10, 2023 - 1:30 pm

lol, mexican military takin over airports?! that’s cray cray! prez LOpez obrador is gettin’ the army 2 do all sorts of weird stuff, like immigration duties and buildin’ a tourist train. but will it solve the problems at mexico city airport? i dunno…

Reply
TravelAddict22 July 10, 2023 - 2:01 pm

Finally, someone’s takin’ action against the corruption at the airports! Mexico City Airport has been a mess with drug shipments and stolen luggage. Let’s hope the military can clean things up and make it safer for travelers.

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