Outrage as work begins on new international airport for Machu Picchu

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Peruvian archaeologists say a new airport would cause incalculable damage to the Inca ruins.

 

Archaeologists have denounced plans in building a new international airport in the hope of bringing 6 million visitors to Machu Picchu each year.

 

A petition, signed by 200 archaeologists, anthropologists and historians, asks the Peruvian president, Martín Vizcarra, to suspend construction as the new airport will destroy archaeological sites and some of the very cultural riches the visitors come to see.

 

Already bulldozers are scraping clear millions of tonnes of earth in Chinchero, in preparation of the new airport.

 

Currently, the nearest airport to Machu Picchu is Alejandro Velasco Astete located in the city of Cusco, approximately 80 kilometres away from the ruins.

 

The airport has only one runway and is limited to narrow-body aircraft used for short-haul flights.

 

The new airport, however, is planned to take much larger planes which will allow flights from major cities across Latin America and the US.

 

Construction companies from South Korea and Canada are queuing up to bid on the project.

 

“This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas,” says Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at Cambridge University.

 

“Putting an airport here would destroy it.”

 

Critics also argue that construction would deplete Lake Piuray, which the city of Cusco relies on for half its water supply.

 

Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472), where today it is regarded as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

 

Approximately 1.5 million people visit the site each year.