Guadalajara Airport, Jalisco, Mexico

A decades-long land dispute has delayed expansion of Guadalajara Airport, including a new runway. Communal landholders argue they are owed compensation for 307 hectares of land and protests have blocked entrances to the airport terminal and car parks.


In 1975, the Mexican government expropriated 307 hectares of communally owned land in El Zapote for expansion of Guadalajara Airport, including a new terminal.[1] A number of payments have been made to the ejidos but, 43 years later, they are still demanding full compensation. Their claim is opposed by the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) and airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP). Street marches, protests and blocking entrances to airport car parks has delayed the expansion plans which include a new runway. There was hope of resolution of the land compensation dispute with an agreement, made on 14th April 2016, which would have awarded the ejidos USD176 million in compensation. But, instead of upholding the agreement, the SCT backed out of it, commissioning the Instituto de Administración y Avalúos de Bienes Nacionales (INDAABIN), referred to in English as the Institute of Administration and Evaluation of National Assets, to conduct a new analysis. The findings of this study led to SCT making a drastically reduced compensation offer, of less than USD3.6 million. Communal landowners rejected this offer out of hand. The SCT claimed that the court ruling on the issue was “unclear” whilst leader of the communal landholders Nicholás Vegas Pedroza said it ruled in their favour.[2]  

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Basic Data
NameGuadalajara Airport, Jalisco, Mexico
SiteTlajomulco de Zuñiga
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGuadalajara Airport (officially known as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport) is located Tiajomulco de Zuñiga, Jalisco, 16 kilometres to the south of Guadalajara city centre. The airport opened in 1966 and is Mexico’s third-busiest airport for passengers, handling over 12.8 million passengers in 2017, and the country’s second busiest airport for cargo flights.[5] Guadalajara Airport is owned and operated by Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico which operates 12 airports in the western states of Mexico.[6] A new runway costing USD216 million is a key component of expansion plans that would enable the airport, currently handling about 13 million passengers per year, to increase this number to over 40 million annually.[7] A second terminal is planned, on 51 hectares of land which El Zapote landowners claim belongs to them. Their claim is disputed by the federal Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) which claims the land in question belongs to federally-owned corporation Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxilaires (ASA).[3] UK based firm The Design Solution (TDS) was appointed as construction partner for expansion of Guadalajara Airport in October 2018. The focus of this phase of expansion is on the main commercial areas of the existing terminal, reconfiguring five commercial areas into a cohesive area.[8]
Project Area (in hectares)307
Level of Investment (in USD)USD 216,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1975
Company Names or State EnterprisesGrupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP) from Mexico - Owner and operator or Guadalajara Airport
The Design Solution (TDS) from United Kingdom - Appointed as construction partner for Guadalajara Airport expansion
Instituto de Administración y Avalúos de Bienes Nacionales (INDAABIN) from Mexico - Conduted study that eld to reduced land compensation offer
Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA) from Mexico - Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) claimed ASA owns 51 hectares of disputed land.[3]
Relevant government actorsFederal government of Mexico

Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Communal landowners (Ejido el Zapote)
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
OtherIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.While the communal landowners received some compensation for land taken for Guadalajara Airport a court ruling that they should receive a higher amount was not upheld. The dispute over the expropriated land continues.
Sources and Materials

[1] Court ruling awaited in Guadalajara dispute, Mexico News Daily, 27 September 2016
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[2] Guadalajara’s airport: a battleground between mismatched foes, The Guadalajara Reporter, 29 June 2017
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[3] Landowners continue their battle over Guadalajara airport land, Mexico News Daily, 4 May 2018
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[4] Communal landowners mount new protest at Guadalajara airport, Mexico News Daily, 30 October 2018
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[5] Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport
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[6] Grupo Aeroportuario Del Pacífico
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[7] Second runway urgent for Guadalajara, Mexico News Daily, 7 October 2017
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[8] Guadalajara Airport development appoints construction partner, International Airport Review, 4 October 2018
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Ejido El Zapote retomará marchas y protestas por pago de sus tierras
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Protestas contra el nuevo aeropuerto de México
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Guadalajara: más protestas de ejidatarios por expropiación para aeropuerto
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Manifestaciones en el Aeropuerto de Guadalajara son legales: ejidatarios
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Other Documents

Landowners blockade the airport September 2016: A tractor joins a landowners’ protest demanding compensation for land expropriated for Gaudalajara Airport in 1975. Source: Mexico News Daily
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Communal landowners protest, May 2018 El Zapote landowners protest again in their long running dispute over land expropriated for Guadalajara Airport. Source: Mexico News Daily
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Guadalajara Airport land dispute protest The ongoing land dispute between communal landowners and the federal government flared up again in October 2018. Source: Mexico News Daily
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Guadalajara Airport terminal Guadalajara Airport is undergoing phased expansion. Source: International Airport Review
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Guadalajara Airport, aerial view Source: Tripmondo
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El Zapote ejidos protest May 2018 - El Zapote landowners protest against land expropriation for Guadalajara Airport. Source: El Economista
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Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update08/01/2019