Cargo airlines have until July to move flights from Mexico's capital airport

MEXICO CITY, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Cargo airlines operating out of Mexico's busiest airport will have until July to leave the hub, a decree published in the country's national gazette Thursday evening said.

The decree comes from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has said he would have cargo flights moved due to lack of space at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City.

Around 3% of flights at the airport in 2022 were for cargo, according to flight data.

The closest airport is the Felipe Angeles International Airport on the northern outskirts of the city, one of Lopez Obrador's flagship public works projects opened last March.

While the decree does not stipulate airlines must move their operations to Felipe Angeles, Lopez Obrador has said the airport has the space and "security conditions" to make the change.

Mexico has also been under the Category 2 aviation rating by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since it was downgraded in May 2021 on safety concerns, meaning Mexican airlines cannot launch new routes to the United States.

Mexico recently came to an agreement with the FAA to be able to move international flights from Benito Juarez to the Felipe Angeles airport without counting as a "new route," Mexican transportation ministry officials have said.

Mexican aviation unions fought the change, while other groups requested more time to implement the switch.

The decree published Thursday gives airlines 108 business days to move out of Benito Juarez. It did not specify consequences of non-compliance. Cargo carrier Estafeta had requested to be given a year to 16 months to move operations, its operations director told local media.

The decree will still allow flights carrying both cargo and passengers to operate out of the Benito Juarez airport. (Reporting by Kylie Madry; Editing by Christopher Cushing)