Mexico City International Airport
Courtesy Foster + Partners Mexico City International Airport

Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called for a referendum to determine the future of the new Mexico City International Airport, which is currently under construction. Designed by Foster + Partners, New York– and Mexico City–based Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE), and the Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO) as part of a design competition in 2014, the $13 billion project has faced pushback due to potential environmental costs and allegations of corruption, according to an Agence France Presse (AFP) article.

In a press conference held last week, the president-elect referred to the project as a "bottomless pit" and detailed plans for a public vote on the project in October, vowing the results would be "binding," according to the same article.

Interior rendering of Mexico City International Airport.
Courtesy Foster + Partners | Image by DBOX Interior rendering of Mexico City International Airport.

"The plan is to provide the Mexican people all the relevant information, truthfully and objectively, so that we can all decide together on this important matter of national interest," López Obrador said at the press conference.

The referendum will allow voters to either support the continued construction of the project or cancel it. If the project is canceled, the government will reportedly prioritize the continued use of the existing airport and the refurbishment of an old military base as a secondary hub. The cancellation would cost the economy $5.2 billion in sunk costs.

If the public votes for the project to proceed, the government could opt to utilize public and private funding to relieve taxpayers, Lopez Obrador's pick for transportation minister, Javier Jimenez, said in the AFP article.

Referred to as the Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México, the new airport was expected to begin operations by 2020, with expansion plans for 2028 and 2062. The project was green-lighted in 2014 by departing president Enrique Peña Nieto in an effort to relieve capacity and maintenance pressures on the existing airport. The Foster + Partners plans call for a nearly 8 million-square-foot, X-shaped commercial aviation hub.

Foster + Partners did not immediately respond to a comment request prior to the publication of this story.