After three months of deliberating, the airport authority took another small step yesterday toward studying a cross-border airport terminal at Tijuana Rodriguez International Airport.

By an 8-1 vote, the authority agreed to spend as much as $40,000 to identify feasibility issues that would come with building a terminal to connect U.S. passengers with the Mexican airport. Board member Tony Young dissented.

They could’ve spent more, but chose not to. They passed on surveying U.S. passengers who fly out of the Tijuana airport; reviewing the airport’s master plan; and determining the anticipated passenger growth from Tijuana.

A lot of unknowns still exist with the cross-border idea. Several provisions in a 1961 U.S.-Mexico treaty complicate the issue. It prohibits U.S. airlines from providing service between two Mexican cities. According to an authority briefing, that’s called cabotage. U.S. airlines are also prohibited from flying international routes from Mexican cities.

And the Federal Aviation Administration won’t help fund a market-demand study unless the border connection would enhance airport capacity in San Diego. The airport authority – which has pointed to Miramar as the best option for enhancing capacity – has insisted that the cross-border terminal wouldn’t boost Lindbergh Field’s capacity or substitute for Miramar. The terminal’s proponents say it would give some boost to Lindbergh.

Young’s objection came over the Mexican government’s participation (or lack of.) Young said he was concerned that the authority was spending money to improve Mexico’s air capacity without talking to federal or state officials in Mexico.

Background on the terminal idea is here.

ROB DAVIS

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