A proposed expansion of this capital's international airport could make the northeastern section of the city more vulnerable to flooding, the former head of Mexico's National Water Commission said Thursday.

The area being eyed for the expansion, a parcel of 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) around Lake Texcoco, should instead be preserved as a "regulating vessel to avoid severe floods," Jose Luis Luege told Reforma newspaper.

The eastern part of the Federal District, as the Mexico City jurisdiction is officially known, "is sinking at an average annual rate of 20-40 centimeters (7.8-15.7 inches)," Luege pointed out.

He also accused Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza of misrepresenting the plans for Mexico City International Airport.

In reality, according to Luege, the only viable project would entail building a new airport and mothballing the existing facility.

Flight schedules at 60-year-old Mexico City International were altered by official decree in July to bolster operational security and ease flight congestion during peak hours.

The airport was remodeled and expanded with the addition of Terminal 2 in 2007, five years after a plan to build a new airport in the nearby town of Texcoco was scrapped due to violent opposition from local landowners.

Luege suggested the appeal of an expansion or replacement project on federal land is that it would avert the need for potentially controversial expropriations. EFE