The U.S. and Mexico Are Going to Share an Airport

How It Works
Nov. 19 2013 3:08 PM

San Diego and Tijuana to Share an Airport 

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Passengers of an internal Mexican flight to Tijuana, near the U.S. border, line up to be inspected by security personnel prior to boarding in Toluca, Mexico.

Photo by Mario Vazquez/AFP/Getty Images

Construction has begun on a new terminal that will let travelers at the Tijuana airport cross directly into San Diego. Travelers will have to pay a fee to cross the 500-foot bridge across the border fence to a new customs station, but the plan will eliminate long waits at the border crossing for San Diego travelers who have already been using Tijuana as a second airport, particularly for international flights. (Needless to say, Tijuana taxi drivers are not big supporters of the plan.) The plan has been under consideration since the early ‘90s, and the link is supposed to be operation next year.

Tijuana would not be the world’s first “bi-national airport,” though there aren’t many. France and Switzerland share two of them. Basel-Mulhouse Airport is located in French territory but has “Swiss customs zones, which are connected to Basel by a customs road.”* Geneva International Airport also has a French Sector devoted solely to French domestic air travel. There are also a number of small airports straddling the U.S.-Canadian border.

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For obvious political reasons, this plan has been a lot more controversial, but it’s good to seen an acknowledgment that the two cities share some common economic interests. 

*Correction, Nov. 20, 2013: This post originally stated that Basel-Mulhouse airport was located in Swiss territory. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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