TIJUANA (Border Report) — Portable bathrooms now greet tourists arriving at Tijuana’s international airport.
According to a city official, it was the state of Baja California that shut off water service to the airport over a billing dispute.
Mayor Arturo Gonzalez says the airport operator, Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, an airport conglomerate with Spanish investors, hasn’t paid its bills since 1998.
According to Gonzalez, GAP also owes on other utilities, taxes and permits totaling more than 700 million pesos, about $33.3 million.
“The airport pretends not to pay anything to the city and hauling all the profits back home. That’s not right, they have to reconsider what they’re doing, they are using Tijuana’s utilities, they have to contribute,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez shut off the water late Wednesday, and the Porta-Potties arrived on Thursday.
“It’s gotten so bad the airport now reeks of urine,” said an anonymous worker.
One traveler described how difficult it’s become to go to the bathroom. “You practically have to leave your gate and run outside to the street to go the the bathroom,” said a woman named Teresa.
The city also alleges that alcohol is being sold at the airport without a license and that it’s being sold to minors. And that a parking structure is operating without proper permits.
“We invite them to formally regulate the parking situation, have them come the city’s offices to obtain the proper operating permits and they can carry on like any other business,” Gonzalez said.
Efforts to reach GAP, the airport operator, have been unsuccessful.
According to Wikipedia, Tijuana’s airport is the fifth busiest in Mexico, handling nearly 9 million passengers last year.
It’s also unique for its ‘Cross Border Xpress,’ a walkway bridge that connects the airport to a terminal on the north side of the border. It allows American tourists and others to cross the border via this bridge avoiding border crossings altogether. It’s the first building to connect the U.S. to a foreign airport terminal.