“I don’t care where the new airport is – just take a decision!”
The chairman of Azores airline SATA called on the government to hurry up and choose a location for Lisbon’s new international airport.
Speaking at a Tourism Conference organised by the Irish-Portuguese Business Network (IPBN) last Thursday (September 29) held at the Universidade Europeia (Lisbon), Luís Rodrigues, in response to a question from the audience about Lisbon’s new international airport, said: “I don’t care where they put the new airport just so long as they take a decision, wherever it is, just take the goddam decision!”
Conference moderator and chairman of the IPBN, Geoffrey Graham, also asked the SATA chairman about the need for the new Lisbon International Airport.
“We’ve been talking about the new airport for a long time, certainly for as long as I’ve been here and that’s 23 years. How important is (solving that) jigsaw puzzle in terms of meeting demand?
“This is fundamental,” Luís Rodrigues replied. “We’ve been discussing the new airport for 50 years and it has involved a lot of governments.
“We’ve heard so many times that a decision would be taken within two years, and then we hear that it’s not quite like that, and we’ll need a public consultation which will take three or four years, yet it seems nothing gets to happen for at least 10-15 years,” he said.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques, admitted herself that 50% of inflows of travellers were tourists coming through Portugal’s airports.
“We have 10 international airports in this country, including in the Azores which need some work done on them such as building new structures to ease the flow of passengers, and with more expected. It is unthinkable that the main gateway into this country (Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado International Airport) is in the (overcapacity) situation that it is in,” he said.
Luís Rodrigues was the invited guest on a panel to discuss ‘The transformation and repositioning of tourism in Portugal’, which included a Q&A with Francisco Teixeira, CEO and owner of Melair IR – Royal Caribbean Group, and John Bergin, director of SkyTours Travel and Golfbreaks.ie
By CHRIS GRAEME