In the annals of animal history, there's no confrontation more savage than airline vs. railroad. At least, that's what the Fox special When Mass Transit Attacks told me.
So it might seem odd to see an airport operator, Mexico's Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste
ASUR, which just opened another large, modern terminal in Cancun, announced that it would promote and invest in a convention center and light rail line to serve the rapidly expanding tourist destination of the Mayan Riviera. This stretch of shoreline is fast becoming a destination to rival Cancun itself, and as traffic to the area has increased, so has the call from regional politicians for transportation infrastructure better geared to serve the area.
Until now, the clamor has been for an airport, rumors of which have beaten back ASUR's stock in the past, because current travelers to the Riviera funnel through Cancun or (to a lesser extent) Cozumel, which is also an ASUR property. The fear is that a competing airport would siphon off passenger traffic and the related revenues from ASUR's two most important properties.
However, at this point, the Mayan Riviera airport is nothing but rumors, and really vague rumors at that. So far, ASUR's reaction to those rumors has been appropriate, something along the lines of "We don't know nothing, but if and when it happens, we intend to bid."
This latest maneuver, by my point of view, is much smarter. It derails the airport argument by offering a sound -- more sound, I would argue -- alternative to the two likely solutions to the rumored airport. A smaller, regional airport would require passengers disembarking elsewhere, more loading, and another flight on smaller planes. That wouldn't save time for anyone, and it might not be worth the cost to carriers or infrastructure operators.
A larger, international airport would split those lucrative full routes currently landing in Cancun to a pair of destinations, and would likely mean airlines would be flying more planes, less full, to places mere kilometers apart. (Cancun is about 40 miles from Playa del Carmen, the center of the Mayan Riviera's growing tourist industry.) That could be very expensive, and if carriers like JetBlue
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At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had shares of ASUR but no positions in any other company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. JetBlue is a Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.