Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, May 18, 2022

World

Mexico probes near-collision of planes on airport runway

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday an incident at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) was being investigated, after a video reportedly taken over the weekend showed a plane almost landing on an already-occupied runway.

Concerns over reports of a number of recent incidents prompted Rogelio Jimenez Pons, deputy transport minister, to propose a halt of operations at the nearby newly-built Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA) as a temporary solution.

“If the investigation tells us to do that (stop operations at AIFA), we will do so. Security is above any other type of interest,” he said during an interview with local media.

A ministry spokesperson could not be immediately reached for further comment.

Video of the weekend incident appeared to show two jets from Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris nearly colliding. It surfaced online days after a report from an international pilots association cited “several” safety concerns in the capital’s air space.

Volaris shares fell nearly 8% on Monday. On Sunday, the carrier’s chief executive, Enrique Beltranena, said on Twitter he had called for internal and external investigations.

“Thanks to the training of our pilots and their impeccable monitoring of the processes, no passenger or crew member was at risk during the situation reported at the AICM the night of May 7,” Beltranena said.

Lopez Obrador called for a meeting to “put the airspace in order” and said the director of the Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (SENEAM), Victor Hernandez, had resigned.

Jose Alfredo Covarruvias, general secretary of Mexico’s Air Traffic Controllers Union (SINACTA), told Reuters the union had sent around 30 reports of safety incidents to the federal civil aviation agency.

“We’ve got to see what factors led to this error, to make sure above all that it doesn’t happen again,” said Covarruvias, who also welcomed the investigation and Hernandez’s resignation. “If it happens again, it’s not an accident,” he added.

Senator Ricardo Monreal, a prominent member of the ruling MORENA party who has butted heads with Lopez Obrador, mentioned the incident when speaking to reporters and called on heads of Mexico’s transportation and civil aviation authorities to testify in Congress.

He also called on lawmakers to look into recent troubles at the airport, one of Latin America’s busiest.

“Like thousands of people, I’ve experienced flight delays, but this week they got worse,” Monreal said in a tweet. “The legislative power should take action to understand the causes and support a solution.”

The Felipe Angeles Internatinal Airport championed by Lopez Obrador and built by the armed forces officially opened in March. It was intended to relieve the overburdened Mexico City International Airport, but Reuters found that the airport was still under construction almost a month after its inauguration and it offered few daily flights.

In May 2021, the United States downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating, which bars Mexican carriers from adding new U.S. flights and limits airlines’ ability to carry out joint marketing agreements.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Boyle, Valentine Hilaire and Carolina Pulice; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Anthony Esposito, David Gregorio and Richard Pullin)

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