BUENOS AIRES – President Mauricio Macri participated on Wednesday in the reopening of the airport in the western province of Mendoza, Argentina’s No. 4 aviation facility, whose overhaul cost nearly $75 million.
“We took office (in December 2015) and the airlines told us they did not land (sic) anymore in Mendoza because the airfield was dangerous,” Macri said before ripping the previous administration for failing to carry out preventive maintenance five years ago, a move that resulted in officials having to undertake a full renovation.
The airport project is yet another “bomb” left behind by President Cristina Fernandez’s 2007-2015 administration, Macri said.
The Mendoza airport, known as “El Plumerillo,” is now the “most modern” aviation facility in Argentina after being closed for three months for a “marvelous” public works project, the president said.
Some 1.6 million people, including air travelers and employees, will benefit from the $1.2 billion peso ($74.5 million) project, presidential spokesmen told EFE.
El Plumerillo handles about 118 weekly flights to 13 destinations – 11 domestic and two international – and some 1.3 million travelers pass through the airport each year.
The runway was in “an advanced state of deterioration” and had to be completely rebuilt, officials said, adding that the terminal was expanded to deal with “serious saturation problems at peak travel times.”
“When you do something like this in three months, it seems like magic, but it’s just good applied engineering,” Macri said during the ceremony in Mendoza city, the capital of the like-named province.
The president noted that more was invested in El Plumerillo in three months than went into all of Argentina’s airports in 2015.
The government plans to invest nearly 8 billion pesos ($496 million) in the country’s 10 airports next year for “construction and renovation,” Macri said.
The president said his administration planned to build nine more airports in Argentina.