Mexico wants China involved in new airport after train blunder-source

martes 31 de marzo de 2015 16:53 GYT

By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY, March 31 (Reuters) - Mexico is trying to get Chinese state-run companies involved in the construction of a new $11 billion airport as it seeks to make up for a tainted rail tender that soured relations with Beijing, a source with knowledge of the government plan said.

Mexico announced in September it would build the new Mexico City airport to relieve congestion and transform the capital into a major regional hub with six runways eventually serving 120 million passengers a year.

The airport is Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's flagship infrastructure project. The other, a high-speed train linking Mexico City with the city of Queretaro, was originally awarded to a consortium led by state-run China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC). But it was later put on ice indefinitely - a move that shocked Beijing, officials say.

Senior Mexican officials believe that China could be assuaged by involving some of its state-run companies in the airport construction, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

"In some levels of (China's) government there is deep disappointment and a deep lack of confidence toward Mexico," the person said. "The ball is in our court, and we have to show willingness with new projects."

CRCC had the $3.75 billion rail contract revoked just days before it emerged that Pena Nieto's wife had bought a luxury house from one of the Mexican firms in the winning consortium.

Subsequent media reports showed the president and his finance minister had also either bought or used homes from the same government contractor.

Mexico tendered the rail project again in January, and CRCC was widely expected to win. But a sharp drop in the price of oil, which funds about a third of Mexico's federal budget, forced the government to suspend the project.   Continuación...