Airport commission launches into ‘catch-up’ on 50 years of procrastination

Includes mayors from all possible locations

With the future of flagship airline TAP still very much up in the air, the government has finally launched the commission to decide where Lisbon’s new airport will be sited.

It’s a question that MPs and those in the airline sector constantly remind us has been delayed “for the last 50 years. It is ‘urgent’ a solution is found – to this end the diploma approving the setting up of a commission has been published today, in State Gazette Diário da República.

The commission now has 60 days in which to “define the schedule of work”.

Very little has been explained on how much longer it is expected to take for the commission to come to its conclusions.

So, what are the possible venues? After so many false starts and controversy, the choices are to:

  • continue to use the current deeply labouring Humberto Delgado airport as the capital’s main airport with Montijo as a complementary one
  • allow Montijo to gradually become the main airport, leaving Humberto Delgado to be complementary
  • develop Alcochete to replace Humberto Delgado 
  • use Alcochete as the main airport, with Santarém as a complementary
  • develop Santarém (which has zero facilities at present) to substitute Humberto Delgado
  • suggest any other location that the commission “may see fit”

The Council of Ministers’ resolution allows for a monitoring committee of the commission (full name: Independent Technical Commission). This monitoring committee will include “besides the respective presidents (of the Independent Technical Commission, the Higher Council of Public Works), the mayors of municipal councils of Alcochete, Benavente, Lisbon, Loures, Montijo and Santarém, “as well as the mayors of locations that may be proposed by the technical commission, if this happens”.

As Lusa reports, the government approved a bill to change the power of municipalities to veto works of public interest recently – but this “did not get a favourable opinion from the local authorities involved and was therefore rejected by national civil aviation authority ANAC”.

Besides the various mayors, the monitoring committee will also include representatives of a number of official bodies, namely the National Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CNADS), the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo Regional Coordination and Development Commission, the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities (CRUP), the Coordinating Council of Polytechnic Higher Education Institutes, National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC), as well as a retired judge appointed by the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the President of the Portuguese Economists’ Association, the President of the Portuguese Engineers’ Association, seven persons appointed by the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, one person appointed by the Portuguese Confederation of Environmental Protection Associations, one person appointed by the Portuguese Tourism Confederation and the President of the Lisbon Regional Tourism Authority.

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