A second runway and a giant new control tower were to open Tuesday at Cancun airport, doubling the flight capacity at the popular Mexican Caribbean resort, its operators said.

Cancun airport, which saw more than 12 million passengers last year, will now be able to carry out more than 80 take-offs and landings per hour, said the Group of Airports of Southeast Mexico (ASUR) on its web site.

"It will be able to satisfy the estimated demand for the coming decades," a statement said.

Cancun will be the only Mexican airport able to carry out simultaneous take-offs and landings, due to a 1,420-meter (4,659-foot) separation between the two airstrips, ASUR said.

The new 97-meter (318-foot) control tower will be the highest in Latin America, the company added.

Cancun however still needs to coax back tourists after A(H1N1) flu this year dealt the resort its worst blow in its 35 years of existence, Rodrigo de la Pena, president of the local hotel association, told AFP.

Hotel occupancy was currently at 45 percent, compared with an average of 60 percent in the same period in recent years, De la Pena said.

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