The Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) presented progress in the construction of the new Tulum airport, which will be under the supervision of the state-owned conglomerate Grupo Aeroportuario, Ferroviario y de Servicios Auxiliares Olmeca-Maya-Mexica, S.A. de C.V., and which will be an alternative to reduce congestion at Cancun’s international airport.
According to the federal government, this aerodrome will start operations in 2024, before the end of the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and will have the capacity to serve around 5.5 million passengers annually with a platform that in its first phase will have up to 32,000 annual air operations.
The platform will have 13 positions for commercial aircraft, both domestic and international flights, and an additional platform for general aviation and executive aviation that will have 28 positions; it will also have a hangar with another 12 positions or spaces for executive aircraft.
“This project will satisfy the growing demand of passengers visiting this tourist destination in the south of the Riviera Maya. Its infrastructure and operational potential classify it as a category 4 ECO airport.
According to National Defense estimates, of the 5.5 million passengers arriving annually at Tulum’s Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport, 75% will come from abroad.
This airport complex is being built on an area of 1,500 hectares, with a 3,700 meter long runway, a category one instrument landing system and high-tech navigation aids.
The news will be enjoyed by the tourist community in Tulum. As the system currently stands, Cancun is the only major airport in the region. However, as it is over an hour and a half away from Tulum, it is fair a consideration that the up-and-coming town is losing some businesses from the setup.
According to the President, 1800 hectares have been set aside to begin construction on the airport and he anticipates the site to break ground soon.
Located near Coba, the airport is set to host an International terminal with hopes that American crowds and beyond can find themselves relaxing in the town much quicker than in previous years.
Speaking a few months ago when the decision was made to build, AMLO spoke of the need to expand tourist infrastructure to the South of Quintana Roo. Cancun, in the North, is enjoying tremendous growth in tourist numbers, and the government hopes to capitalize on Tulum’s different atmosphere.
According to reports, the military will also be present in the airport and will have a designated area of the hub to operate. It is unclear as to the exact purpose of the military presence. The exact cost of the project is also a mystery. Those involved have chosen to focus on the economic prosperity it will offer the region, as well as the ecological steps that are being taken to protect the landscape.
It is expected that the new airport will also function as a station on the new Maya Train system. The much-heralded project has hit speed bumps in recent months as the planners clash with hoteliers who may be affected by the proximity of the passing trains.
When completed, it is hoped that the train system will add great value to both Mexicans and tourists alike. Many tourists in Cancun are limited to organized day tours to some of Mexico’s other exciting attractions and cities. But with the addition of the train, exploration and connectivity with other areas will be significantly improved.
Tulum will reap the benefits of Cancun-based tourists visiting their fast-growing town, and Cancun will also enjoy the reverse. The line, which will reach almost 1000 miles long, will also travel throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, opening up ancient Mayan sites that have traditionally been out of reach for many tourists.
With both projects set to be completed in 2023, Tulum will be anticipating further growth. It was featured on TripAdvisor’s recent list of fasting growing destinations in the world, highlighting its popularity.
The city maintains a different atmosphere from Cancun which pulls a slightly younger crowd to its hip city center. Digital nomads have swarmed to the city during the pandemic, finding it one of the best places to set up shop for a short time while much of the world remained closed.
The subsequent access to the city will no doubt affect the city in some way, which may shift the current crowd elsewhere. But its potential to be another Mexican Caribbean powerhouse is very clear. It boasts ruins within its city limits, excellent beaches, and a wide range of food options. Hilton has already announced plans to open more hotels in the area, expanding on its almost $2 billion investment in Quintana Roo.
Those hoping to visit Tulum in the near future will still need to use the Cancun International Airport. Visitors are always reminded to keep on top of any changes in restrictions.