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ASUR: Legal Action after being barred from Riviera Maya Airport Tender

13 September, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that legal action could potentially be taken by Mexico’s ASUR, a company that already administers and operates nine airports in the southeast region of the country. The company has been banned from bidding on the new Riviera Maya airport and is hoping that the antitrust authorities will change their minds.

The ever-popular Riviera Maya is around 130 kilometres away from ASUR’s most successful airport in Cancun.  The Federal Competition Commission has just barred ASUR last week from the bidding for the building and running the new airport in Rivera Maya. Fernando Chico Pardo, ASUR’s CEO, has stated that legal action may be taken against the CFC unless they change their decision in the next few months.

The airport in Rivera Maya is scheduled to be completed and fully operational by end of 2012 which begs the question whether a battle in Mexican courts could hold up the tender process. As it stands, the winning bid is supposed to be decided by the end of next month.

ASUR’s competition comes mainly from two other parties:Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico together with the mining firm Argentina’s Corporacion America, and successful Mexican construction firm Tradeco Infraestructura.

Asur’s traded shares saw an increase in Mexican stock market on Tuesday, making the company one of the best performers of the day, with closing figures up by 3.15%.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the additional interest in ASUR’s shares could suggest that market traders expect the CFC to retract the barring.  This comes despite a lawyer acting on behalf of the CFC stating that it was highly unlikely to happen.

Chico Pardo is a shareholder in ASUR who owns 30% of the company.  He stated he would like to take part in the tender and has no objection to the new airport being built in Riviera Maya.  He went on to say how much he loved Mexico and that he likes to see the country continue to progress.  Chico Pardo claims that the legal action is merely in effort to protect the rights of ASUR’s shareholders.

The Cancun International Airport is the second busiest in Mexico and deals with many of the flights to the region, which carry tourists, business professionals and Mexico real estate investors to and from the country.  The airport saw a 52% profit margin for ASUR from January to September of 2010, which makes Cancun airport their main source of revenue.

Tourists currently depend on Cancun when they travel to Rivera Maya destinations, as it is their only option.  Until the proposed airport in Riviera Maya was optioned, the tourists and retired Mexico home owners had to access Tulum from Cancun by a shuttle, taxi or bus.

Many people feel the new airport to Riviera Maya is needed and will continue the progress that has been made with commuting in and out of Mexico.  The commercial manager of MAYair, Carlos Martinez, reportedly expressed his support as well, stating that the new airport would be fabulous.  The regional airline carries vacationers and Mexican homeowners into and around the Yucatan.  He is hoping that the new airport will reduce travel times and help people reach Riviera Maya in less than the two hours that it takes at present.

Chico Pardo has previously supported the new airport being built, however he recently changed his standing and said that although Cancun welcomes 13 million passengers into the airport every year, it still has the capabilities of coping with more demand as it is built to support up to 30 million passengers.  At the moment, the Cancun airport is well on its way to becoming the main hub of international flights coming into Mexico.

The new Riviera Maya airport will help tourists and the retired Americans and Canadians who own Mexico condos and homes, giving them more choices when they travel in Mexico.  The CFC reportedly fears that ASUR would hinder competition in the region if they were included in the tender, in an effort to protect their biggest investment in Cancun.

Topics: Mexico Infrastructure