Algarve MP criticises closure of airport emergency service

MP FOR the Algarve, José Mendes Bota, has written to the Ministry for Public Buildings, Transport and Communications criticising the management of Faro Airport for its decision to close down the overnight Emergency Service (Serviço de Socorros do Aeroporto Internacional de Faro).

Faro Airport’s management has decided to close the service – a private body specialising in the combat of fires and responsible for responding to any incidents taking place between midnight and 6am. Mendes Bota has questioned the wisdom of the decision. “Even considering that air traffic in the airport was shut down during the period cited (midnight to 6am) some time ago, there are still (potential) situations that demand that security conditions should not be relaxed,” he writes.

The MP cites unforeseen emergency scenarios as justification for the retention of the service. These include: medical emergencies, the evacuation of injured and sick passengers from the terminal, unexpected landings due to meteorological conditions and unforeseen flight delays triggered by air traffic congestion. He also mentions that maintenance work on the national carrier planes (TAP-Air Portugal) is performed overnight and that the airport opens to the public from 4.30am. He concludes that these reasons are more than sufficient to keep the service in place.

Mendes also expresses doubt that  the bombeiros, based in Faro’s city centre, could be at the airport in less than 20 minutes, in the event of an overnight emergency. Citing the need for maximum security, Mendes has asked the government for clarification over the financial, operational and logistical reasons behind the move.