In March of this year, the first direct cargo flight landed between Shanghai, the economic capital of China, and Guadalajara, Jalisco, consolidating the state as one of the key points for the transit of goods between Mexico and the world. The B747-400 F aircraft, operated by GEODIS, will be able to transport 100 tons of cargo in 24 hours, on a weekly frequency.
Guadalajara International Airport 'Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla' is the second most important airport in Mexico in cargo volume, although it also stands out as number one in cargo value and pure cargo.
"Pure cargo is that which is moved in exclusively cargo aircraft because we must also consider the cargo that is moved in the compartments of passenger aircraft. The value of cargo handled in Guadalajara has the distinction of being one of the most important, even above Mexico City; it stands out in electronics manufacturing, medical supplies, vehicle components, agricultural products such as berries, mango, banana, cassava, and avocado, as well as in the export of high value products to Europe and Asia," states Mr. Martín Pablo Zazueta Chávez, Director of Guadalajara International Airport.
The executive mentions that cargo has grown and estimates that it will continue to increase. "The growth is constant, and, above all, Guadalajara is presented as an option due to the ease of transfers and cargo handling, in addition to being an alternative to the current saturation of Mexico City's International Airport."
He points out that the Guadalajara Airport is not only functional for the city's Metropolitan Zone, which is made up of nine municipalities, or for the State of Jalisco itself, but it has also become the gateway for tourism and merchandise business in seven states in Western Mexico.
"The airport possesses the condition of being the key point for the economic development of the West of the country thanks to its connectivity with the entire Mexican Republic and particularly with the United States in terms of the number of passengers, as well in air cargo. Without a doubt, we have an enviable connectivity," says Mr. Zazueta Chávez.
On the other hand, Mr. Sergio Javier Ríos, General Director of Investment Attraction at Secretariat of Economic Development (SEDECO), emphasizes that the expansion of the Guadalajara International Airport has fostered the need to create new industrial parks in Jalisco, precisely because of the increase in cargo flights. "Jalisco is practically number one in cargo operations and number two in volume. Cargo flights have been incorporated from Guadalajara to Dubai and from Guadalajara to Shanghai, and Air Canada has just joined, hence our logistics hub is playing a very important part, because on the one hand industrial spaces are required, but also port infrastructure. In fact, what helps us is our proximity to the port of Manzanillo, Colima, which is the point of entry to Mexico for inputs coming from Asia, which is why many companies consider it efficient to establish themselves in Jalisco, because their inputs are practically three or four hours away from their industrial plant."
The director of the Guadalajara International Airport reveals that in 2020 they had 8,760 cargo operations, while in the first half of 2021 they closed with 4,757 operations, which poses a growth scenario for the end of the year. "The second semester closes fierce due to the Christmas season and winter, there is a lot of cargo to be moved from Guadalajara, in addition to the cargo flights that also arrive to this area."
Among the factors that have had an impact on the growth of cargo flights at the Guadalajara airport is the saturation of the Mexico City International Airport, as well as the health crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has boosted ecommerce and cargo movement.
Additionally, infrastructure such as the Air Cargo Logistics Center (CLA) has consolidated cargo platforms, as it allows and facilitates the movement of goods. "At the Guadalajara airport, merchandise spends very little time in customs, its transit is very fast and that gives it added value. We continue working so that the loading slots continue to be authorized at the airport and be a factor of change and, undoubtedly, become the logistics hub of the West of the country," emphasizes Mr. Martin Pablo Zazueta Chávez.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport of Guadalajara.
• 1966 is the year it was built.
• 16 km from the center of the city of Guadalajara.
• 17 km south of the city of Guadalajara and 15 km north of Chapala, the town that gives origin and name to the largest lake in Mexico. To the east is one of the most important industrial corridors in Jalisco, as well as the town that gives its name to this industrial zone: El Salto Industrial Corridor.
• 3rd busiest airport in Mexico, only after Mexico City International Airport and Cancun International Airport.
• 2nd busiest airport for air cargo flights.
• 2runways and two terminals.
• 35 minutes, approximately, is the transfer time from downtown Guadalajara to the International Airport.
Source: Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico.
Entry to the Asian market in 24 hours
The arrival of the first direct cargo flight between Shanghai and Guadalajara opened a direct cargo line with one of the most important economies in the world.
According to the Government of Jalisco, having a weekly direct cargo frequency between Shanghai and Guadalajara facilitates business operations between both economies and many Chinese companies in the technology and advanced manufacturing sector may be interested in expanding their projects or moving their operations to Jalisco.
In addition, this flight is the result of the implementation of the strategy to turn Jalisco into Mexico's logistics hub. It will be able to transport 100 tons of goods in 24 hours, on a weekly frequency.
This flight is unique in the country, as it offers cargo service for goods considered delicate for air transport, such as lithium batteries and other materials for the industrial sector, which are necessary but difficult to transport.
Another example of Jalisco's international connections with cargo flights is the first flight that arrived in Jalisco from Dubai in early 2020. "This flight with the United Arab Emirates opens an additional door to this part of Asia and gives us the opening to send all kinds of goods, such as electronics and agricultural products. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Jalisco is one of the states with the highest agricultural production in the country and has the potential to send all these types of products. The private initiative driven and supported by the Government is succeeding in maintaining these flights because these are not one week flights, they are flights that are operating on a daily basis at the Guadalajara Airport," states Mr. Martín Pablo Zazueta Chavez.
SEDECO reports that the market of the Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula in general is growing at a very high rate in food consumption and with a direct flight, time and costs are cut, especially to reduce the cold chain that represents an important cost for exporters, in addition to being a sign of confidence with the Arab countries to make direct purchases with Mexico, specifically with Jalisco, while eliminating intermediaries.
The new route that will connect Jalisco with the United Arab Emirates through Emirates SkyCargo will allow exporters to take their products to the Arab market within 24 hours.
Investment to double the capacity of Guadalajara's airport
The so-called Guadalajara 2020-2026 Plan of Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP) includes more than MXN$15 billion of investment in infrastructure.
"We are going to build practically double what we have today, so we are going to double our infrastructure in terms of buildings, roads, parking lots and, very importantly, we are going to build the second runway at Guadalajara International Airport, which is already in process and will allow us to continue to boost air cargo because there will be more infrastructure and platforms, which will allow us to authorize slots for cargo and passenger operations," declares the director of Guadalajara International Airport.
He also reports that they have 15 cargo airlines, which are even more than the passenger airlines. "We have FedEx, Cargolux, DHL, Aerounion, UPS, Atlas Air, Emirates SkyCargo, Estafeta, Qatar Airways Cargo, among others. It is interesting to have so many cargo airlines to be able to serve Asia, Europe, and North America. South America is a region that we hope to serve soon, as it is a business opportunity."
Today, Guadalajara International Airport is served by 14 passenger airlines and 56 destinations, of which 29 are domestic routes and 25 are international routes. It basically connects the United States and Central America with Panama; however, air cargo has more international destinations in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Mr. Martín Pablo Zazueta Chávez concludes that the Guadalajara International Airport is an important cog in the development of Jalisco since it is a facilitator and GAP's commitment is to have a wide range of services for the development of the region.
“We’re working hand in hand with the productive sectors and the State Government. We invite you to invest in Jalisco, to visit us in Guadalajara, where you will have a pleasant surprise seeing what is happening in the western part of the country."