Mexico’s three airport operators agreed to almost double the contributions they pay the government, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in costs, in a deal to placate President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after he criticized the industry’s profit margins.
(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s three airport operators agreed to almost double the contributions they pay the government, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in costs, in a deal to placate President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after he criticized the industry’s profit margins.
GAP, OMA and Asur have reached an agreement with the government to modify the tariff structure that had been in place for over two decades, agreeing to hand the government 9% of gross revenue up from the current 5%, the Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
Earlier this month, the operators said the government had “unilaterally and without prior communication” changed the fee structure. The announcement sent shares tumbling the most on record as investors interpreted the move as another overreach by Lopez Obrador’s administration.
GAP’s total revenues for 2022 amounted to 22.5 billion pesos ($1.2 billion), while OMA reported revenue of 11.9 billion pesos ($654 million). Asur’s revenues last year amounted to 14.3 billion pesos ($786 million).
Shares in Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte SAB, or OMA, fell 0.75% in Mexico City on Thursday, while Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB, or Asur, fell 1.63%. Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico SAB or GAP dropped the most, with shares falling 3.38%.
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“These changes will benefit passengers by reducing the cost of airport services that have an impact on ticket prices,” the government said in the statement, without providing details on how the money would be used or how the move would lower ticket prices. The changes won’t negatively affect the financial or operational situation of the operators, the ministry said.
In August, Lopez Obrador railed against the high profits of airport groups but said he wouldn’t touch concessions. “Do you know how much they make?,” he asked at his daily press conference on Aug. 10. “Fifty percent per year!” he said.
GAP, which is owned by Mexican companies Pal Aeropuertos and Promotora Aeronautica del Pacifico, has the concession for a dozen airports, including some of the country’s most prominent tourist destinations, like Los Cabos, according to its website.
OMA operates airports in central and northern Mexico, including the hub in Monterrey. Last year, French construction company Vinci SA bought a 30% stake in the company from the reclusive billionaire David Martinez. Its peer Asur, which operates the Cancun airport as well as terminals in Colombia and Puerto Rico, is controlled by billionaire Fernando Chico Pardo, who also serves as chairman of its board.
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The companies earn a large part of their revenue from charging fees for different things. Passengers pay an airport fee use as part of their airfare, known as the TUA. They also earn revenue from businesses who set up shop at the airports and they charge airlines fees for using the runways and storing their planes. The ministry’s statement did not provide details on whether or how these fees would change.
–With assistance from Michael O’Boyle.
(Updates with details throughout starting in seventh paragraph)
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