Mexico Official Outlines $400 Million Airport Project

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Work on a new terminal and shuttle train for Mexico City's overcrowded airport will start in August, Transportation Secretary Pedro Cerisola said Wednesday.

Cerisola told reporters the US$400 million (euro326 million) project would allow the airport to handle 33 million passengers a year, 10 million more than at present.

The project replaces a more ambitious plan to build a new airport that was scrapped in 2002 after months of sometimes violent protests by some of the farmers in the town, Atenco, where it was to be built.

Cerisola said the government development bank Nafinsa would finance the project, which involves a new terminal on the south side of the airport's runways.

It is to be linked to the existing north-side terminals with a 3 kilometer (2 mile) shuttle train. The trip should take passengers about 15 minutes. It will also have a new five-star hotel and a parking lot for 3,000 vehicles.

The existing terminal also is being expanded, a project due to concluded in September.

Cerisola was questioned by reporters after attending a meeting of architects.

President Vicente Fox earlier said the expansion was part of a broader plan to let the airport operate safely for another 25 to 30 years, partly by shifting some traffic to other urban areas.

The airport, founded in 1910, is now hemmed in on three sides by heavy urban development.