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by Matt Alderton | September 04, 2014
A modern city needs a modern airport. And that's exactly what Mexico City is about to get, according to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who this week unveiled plans for a new $9.2 billion airport that will be the largest in Latin America.

Designed by British architect Norman Foster in collaboration with Mexican architect Fernando Romero, the new Mexico City airport will occupy nearly 11,400 acres of federal land adjacent to the city's current airport, according to the Associated Press, which reported yesterday that the facility will have six runways and capacity to serve 120 million passengers per year. The current airport, by comparison, has only two runways and can serve only 32 million passengers per year.

"The new airport will be our country's biggest infrastructure project in recent years and among the largest in the world," Nieto said Tuesday in his "State of the Nation" speech, during which he unveiled his airport plan. "This project will benefit not only the nation's biggest metropolitan zone; it will be a meeting point for Mexicans from all regions and the most important gateway for Mexico to the world."

Unlike most airports, which have disparate terminals in separate buildings, the new Mexico City airport will have a single X-shaped structure totaling almost 6 million square feet. Although it will take 50 years to complete, the project's first phase -- encompassing three runways capable of serving 50 million annual passengers -- is scheduled for completion by 2020.

Said Foster, "It pioneers a new concept for a large-span, single airport enclosure, which will achieve new levels of efficiency and flexibility - and it will be beautiful. The experience for passengers will be unique. Its design provides the most flexible enclosure possible to accommodate internal change and an increase in capacity. Mexico has really seized the initiative in investing in its national airport, understanding its social and economic importance and planning for the future. There will be nothing else like it in the world."