Mexico Reopens Its Busiest Airport After 7.1 Earthquake, But Dozens of Flights Have Been Cancelled
Mexico’s busiest international airport reopened at 4 p.m. CDT after closing for several hours following a powerful 7.1 earthquake in the central Mexican state of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, that damaged buildings and killed at least 119 people, according to the Associated Press. The death toll is expected to rise.
While Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México, or AICM, has since resumed service, dozens of flights operated by Aeroméxico, Copa, Delta, and WestJet have been canceled or delayed. AICM said 180 flights on their way in and out of the Mexico City airport were affected by the temporary closure. Officials are working on affected areas in the terminals but noted on Twitter that this was not a safety risk to travelers.
While Aeroméxico announced via Twitter that it resumed “normal” operations at 5 p.m. CDT, some customers say they are having a difficult time getting through to customer service agents to check on flights or re-schedule. The airline, which operates its main hub at the Mexico City airport, has repeatedly apologized via messages on Twitter that its phone lines are full and asking people to be patient.
Aeroméxico also issued a statement that all flights scheduled to and from the Mexico City airport between Sept. 19 and Sept. 21 will be protected. Passengers will be able to use those tickets without charges for changing their flights until Oct. 31, 2017. Delta, too, has issued a travel waiver for passengers from Sept. 19 to Sept. 20.
Earlier Tuesday, AICM posted on Twitter that flights were suspended until the Mexico City airport infrastructure could be evaluated, and as a result, they were diverting incoming flights to other airports including Guadalajara, Toluca, and Acapulco. Photos of the airport following the earthquake showed cracks in roads, with some Twitter users reporting structural cracks and damage.
The Mexico City airport has not yet commented on any infrastructure damage.
The earthquake in Puebla had a preliminary magnitude of 7.1, according to U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake occurred on the anniversary of the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake in 1985 that caused extensive damage to Mexico City and the surrounding region. It also follows a 8.1-magnitude earthquake offshore Chiapas, in southern Mexico, that hit Sept. 7.