DHL to boost Mexican investment after cargo flights move

  • DHL to invest $600 million in Mexico through 2024
  • Mexico president ordered shift to new airport by July

SANTA LUCIA, Mexico Feb 28 (Reuters) - Logistics giant DHL will double its planned investment in Mexico through 2024, executives said on Tuesday, as it shifts cargo flights from the capital's closest airport to a new, distant facility backed by the country's president.

The company will invest $600 million in Mexico through next year, up from its previous plan to spend $300 million from 2019 to 2024, company executives said following an event with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The strategy includes about $55 million for cargo operations at Mexico City's new Felipe Angeles International Airport, according to DHL country head Antonio Arranz.

DHL is the first cargo carrier to transfer its flights from Mexico City's more centrally-located Benito Juarez airport to the new hub after a presidential decree earlier this month required the move by July.

Lopez Obrador argued that the switch to the new airport was needed as there was insufficient space at Benito Juarez, but critics have panned the move as rushed and a bid to increase traffic at the still-unpopular airport, which opened last year.

At the event on Tuesday, Lopez Obrador highlighted Felipe Angeles' state-of-the-art facilities and said the airport would break even by December, nearly two years after opening.

DHL expects three daily flights to come into Felipe Angeles by June, Arranz said, including one new route. The flights will move 120 tonnes of cargo through the facility per day, he added.

The new route will be operated by Canadian partner Cargojet, Arranz told Reuters, as Mexican carriers are currently unable to open new U.S. routes due to an aviation safety downgrade by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Another senior executive hinted at additional DHL investments in Mexico, but offered few details.

"In the next 60 to 90 days, we'll be making ... a further investment ... in a city that we currently operate (from) here in Mexico," said Mike Parra, the company's regional director.

($1 = 18.3095 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonali Paul

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Kylie Madry is a headline news reporter covering business, politics and breaking news for all of Latin America. She's based out of the Reuters office in Mexico City, where she was previously a freelance journalist and translator working on award-winning podcasts, books about Mexico's drug lords and stories ranging from the fight for clean water to the millions spent on the city's surveillance system. Kylie is originally from Dallas, Texas.