MEXICO CITY, Aug 31 (Reuters) - New flight reductions at Mexico City International Airport (AICM) will take effect in November, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday, sparking an outcry from the aviation sector.
The government earlier in the day ordered by decree that the busiest airport in Latin America cut flights to 43 per hour from 52.
The decree requires the reductions to begin in the winter season, which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) defines as the last Sunday of October to the last Saturday of March.
Reuters first reported the planned cuts on Wednesday, citing an internal government document.
Lopez Obrador said in his regular morning press conference that airlines had been consulted about the plan.
Airport authorities met with airline representatives later on Thursday, but did not say how the flight reductions will be distributed among carriers, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.
Instead, airport officials would present the methodology for distributing the cuts in a future meeting, the source added.
"Nothing was reported about the effects on each airline. They only repeated that operations would be reduced as the (decree) already says," the source said.
A representative for the airport confirmed the meeting occurred, but did not explain how it planned to divvy up the cuts.
IATA was critical of the government's "unilateral" decision.
"This decision by the government does not take into account the interests of consumers, nor does it respect the necessary consultative process with operators and users, especially at the country's main airport," Peter Cerda, IATA regional vice president, said in a statement.
Mexico's top three carriers, Aeromexico, Volaris and Viva Aerobus, all also criticized the cuts in separate statements.
"The short notice of this decision will have a negative impact on the travel plans of thousands of passengers, especially given how soon the high season of winter is," Viva Aerobus said.
Aeromexico said the reductions also would affect workers and the ability to attract new investments, which depend on "legal certainty and adequate air connectivity."
Volaris called for studies "to guarantee equity and avoid any form of discrimination in the implementation of these measures."
Some 1,000 flights a week will be slashed by the new measure, national air transportation chamber Canaero said in a statement.
The cuts follow previous flight caps at the airport last year, as the government attempts to reduce saturation in the Mexican capital's airspace and divert more traffic to the newer, state-run Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA).
"Since we have the (AIFA), which does have the capacity, that's how we're going to resolve this," Lopez Obrador said on Thursday.
Reporting by Kylie Madry and Cassandra Garrison; Additional reporting by Raul Cortes; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Stephen Coates
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Kylie Madry is a headline news reporter covering business, politics and breaking news for all of Latin America. She's based out of the Reuters office in Mexico City, where she was previously a freelance journalist and translator working on award-winning podcasts, books about Mexico's drug lords and stories ranging from the fight for clean water to the millions spent on the city's surveillance system. Kylie is originally from Dallas, Texas.
Mexico-based reporter focusing on climate change and companies with an emphasis on telecoms. Previously based in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires covering the Argentine debt crisis, the tussle for influence between the United States and China in Latin America and the coronavirus pandemic.