Marco Antonio, 70, silently observes the "departures" screen at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM).
He will travel to Monterrey for medical reasons and has preferred to arrive with plenty of time to avoid any shock after learning of the new provisions for the publication of flight schedules at the AICM, implemented this Sunday.
“For decades we were used to a format and now things are changing for us, without any prior information.
It seems inappropriate for me to make these last-minute changes.
It is disastrous ”, he laments this Monday.
On the eve of the next holiday season for Easter,
After years of operating in an increasingly saturated airport, the AICM authorities have decided to hit the table and expose the gap that exists between the schedules offered by the airlines and the schedules assigned by the air terminal on the screens that Show flight departures and arrivals.
Operationally, passengers must abide by the schedules published by the airlines, however, the AICM measure seeks to show that the airlines deliberately choose to fly at the most commercially profitable times and not at the times they have been assigned.
Not all flights have this problem, some are synchronized, others barely register a difference of 15 minutes, but in the most severe cases the lag can be up to 10 hours.
The directors of Benito Juárez calculate that 30% of the flights do not comply with the schedules that the air terminal has assigned them.
The response of the Mexican airlines oscillates, for now, between supporting the measure taken by the federal government and silence.
The distinction between “business hours” and “assigned hours” is an anomaly like so many in Mexico.
The gap began when, given the saturation of the AICM, the aeronautical terminal began to assign
—landing and takeoff times— for each airline.
Those with the longest history and compliance on their routes, such as Aeroméxico, have no problem because they are assigned the schedules
more attractive in terms of demand, also taking into account compliance with the previous air season.
However, new airlines such as Volaris or Viva Aerobus must adjust to the remaining time slots, in less commercially attractive
According to the airport authorities, the problem originates when airlines have a schedule assigned by the authority, but deliberately choose to land or take off at another time because it is more profitable for them.
From the Government's point of view, the decision to no longer publish airline schedules on its screens is a first step to put an end to a disorder created both by the airlines and by the past administrators of the AICM.
Its current director, Carlos Ignacio Velázquez, reproaches the behavior of the airlines: "There are not two schedules, the Mexico Airports Law establishes only one schedule that is the official schedule and attributes that sole responsibility to the Airport Administration through its Schedule Committee, which establishes the official schedules, and what did the company do?
He began to sell tickets at other times, in very productive slots, in high demand, which gave him an economic benefit”.
A passenger looks at a screen with flight schedules in Terminal 2, on July 28, 2022. Galo Cañas (CUARTOSCURO)
The manager refers that since last December the airlines were warned that they would operate with the official schedules.
“We have to order them (the airlines) and us, for the benefit of users.
An authority must exercise authority.
And here the airlines in that aspect did what they wanted.
What we least want is to harm the user, but it is very clear, it is the responsibility of the airlines.
No one is going to miss their flight, I'm sure, ”he asserts.
With nine months in charge of the AICM, the retired vice admiral categorically rejects that this decision is a maneuver to transfer flights to the newly opened Felipe Ángeles airport.
The appearance of the new aerodrome in the capital, one of the great bets of López Obrador,
Volaris and Viva Aerobus, in the spotlight
The Deputy Director of Operations of the AICM, Francisco Alvarado Moreno, assures that despite the controversy and confusion generated, this has not been an improvised decision, on the contrary, it involves the work of more than a year that was duly informed to the companies.
With more than 25 years of experience at the airport, Alvarado Moreno has witnessed on the front line the exponential growth of an airport that until last year served more than 46 million travelers.
“When an airline arrives at a time that is very different from the one it has considered, it is when the rooms saturate me and I am shocked by the airline that is complying with the schedule.
Aeroméxico has a difference of more or less 15 minutes, between the assigned schedule with the commercial, 90% are on time and 10% are those 15 minutes behind.
As passengers search for answers on screens and at their airline counters, companies have had a mixed reaction to the new measure.
The general director of Aeroméxico, Andrés Conesa, affirmed this Monday at a press conference that the changes in schedules were necessary.
"In any airport in the world you needed that because you cannot operate at the time you decide," said the manager.
Viva Aerobus has declined to comment and Volaris only commented that its customers are being notified to minimize operational impacts through its website, applications and telephone lines.
The deputy director of the airport assures that the AICM will take actions to promote compliance with the schedule: any flight that arrives late will be assigned a remote position, those that necessarily require buses to take passengers from the terminal to the plane and vice versa.
According to the manager's calculations, 30% of the flights have a lag between the two schedules, the rest do operate in sync.
Alvarado defends that the change is taking place now because until last year they launched their own operating system that allows them to monitor flights based on information from assigned
and not from
Without this technological tool, the government's order to the airlines was impossible.
Planes of the airline Viva Aerobus at the International Airport of Mexico City. Daniel Augusto (Cuartoscuro)
This latest attempt by the AICM to give an oxygen balloon to its saturated facilities is added to a series of actions that have already been carried out to reduce passenger flow.
In May 2022, through a decree, the Government reduced the number of operations per hour from 61 to 52. Despite these efforts, the air terminal still has a punctuality margin of 65%, when the acceptable level for a aerodrome of its draft should be around 80%.
The expert in aeronautical law from UNAM, Rogelio Rodríguez, explains that the regulation of
will not impact national airlines in the same way.
Aeroméxico, which has been in the market for the longest time, has priority in the time slots and therefore its schedules coincide mostly with those assigned by the authority.
On the contrary, he details, Volaris has
slots , and they prefer to cover a fine and operate at hours that are not theirs, but that are commercially more profitable.
They will be hit hardest by the new AICM provisions.
The specialist assures that the AICM is not saturated at all times.
“It is a pressure on the airlines, but it is generating the idea that the airport is saturated, to mobilize operations to the Felipe Ángeles Airport” he comments.
Rodríguez adds that it is not enough to simply expose the airlines through the AICM screens for the measures to be complied with, so he hopes that the aerodrome will also contemplate a package of provisions to force operators to respect their schedules.
Ultimately, Rodríguez regrets that the measure is creating unnecessary confusion among travelers: "It is hitting the tranquility of passengers, who are waiting at an airport."
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