Airport ‘crisis’: new solutions for old problem

Business association boss suggests two new locations for airports that are ‘practically oven ready’

Business association boss Ana Palmeira de Oliveira has looked ‘outside the box’ that has been limiting progress on a new airport for Lisbon, and believes there are two solutions to the problem that are practically oven-ready.

Stressing “we cannot ignore that we are not a rich country and that the resources we have must be fully at the service of people and territories”, she explains that Beja has an international airport, already built and operational, which is barely used. Tancos, on the other hand, is “one step away from being ready” as a major terminal.

The only stumbling block to the development of both is the official mantra: that the country ‘needs a new airport in Lisbon’.

Other European countries work perfectly well with international airports at least an hour’s travelling distance from their capitals – why should it be different for Lisbon, she queries.

In Ana Palmeira de Oliveira’s mindset, the discussion that a new airport location should ‘serve Lisbon’ is old; out of date even. Add to this the complications of finding a consensus…

“With very strategic positions and capable of responding to a more cohesive development”, the solutions of Tancos and Beja “do not replace an airport that meets Lisbon’s needs, but they strengthen the urgent and much-needed response” that the country needs.

The solutions, in other words, “are for continuity and not merely corrective and temporary strategies“.

As was widely reported a couple of weeks ago, Prime Minister António Costa ordered the revocation of a government dispatch indicating the municipalities of Montijo and Alcochete as locations for the new airport, despite widespread opposition to these plans – particularly with regard to Montijo. The worst aspect of the dispatch was the haste with which it appeared to have been compiled, giving no indications as to the expense that would be involved in having Montijo as a temporary overflow airport, and then Alcochete as an overall replacement for Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado, which would be closed by 2035.

The suggestions put forward by the Beira Baixa Business Association have been based on the premise that in Ana Palmeira de Oliveira’s opinion, it could be better to give the rest of the country “an opportunity to be part of the solution” and, within the scope of that strategic contribution “to benefit from the consequent territorial development, in business, tourism and social terms”.

Lusa has carried this story today, with no indication whether the ideas will be given any credence by decision-makers.

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