Grupo Aeromexico and Delta Air Lines announced plans to invest $40 million to build and jointly operate an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, center in the central Mexican state of Queretaro.

The two airlines said in a joint statement that they will invest equal amounts in the facility, which will be used to service their respective fleets and those of other airlines.

The MRO center will be built at the Queretaro International Airport next to that state's Aerospace Park, Mexico' largest aerospace manufacturing cluster.

Delta and Aeromexico added that the project will involve moving their current MRO installations at the Guadalajara International Airport to the new facility, which could start operating in 2013 with a capacity to service up to seven airplanes simultaneously.

"With the site selection, the joint efforts now move to begin constructing this facility that will usher in lower maintenance costs without compromising the very high quality work that Aeromexico provides Delta," Delta Air Lines President Ed Bastian said.

For his part, Grupo Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa said the Queretaro center represents one of Mexico's biggest aerospace investment projects in recent years.

The project is part of a memorandum of understanding that was signed in 2011 and included the purchase by Delta of a 4.17 percent stake in Aeromexico for $65 million.

Grupo Aeromexico has four subsidiaries and offers 550 daily flights to different cities in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. It recently announced the purchase of 100 Boeing aircraft.

Delta, the world's largest airline, transports 160 million passengers annually, employs more than 80,000 people and has a fleet of 700 aircraft. EFE