Controversy over new airport gathers pace.jpg

Controversy over new airport gathers pace


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THE PRESIDENTS of the Portuguese Industrial Confederation and Porto Association of Commerce have accused a government minister of “creating manoeuvres” in favour of having Lisbon’s new international airport at Ota.

In statements to the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Francisco van Zeller of the Confederação da Industria Portuguesa (CIP) and Rui Moreira, of the Associação Comercial do Porto blasted Minister of Public Works Mário Lino for pushing for the Ota site despite an abundance of evidence that Alcochete would be billions of Euros cheaper.

Francisco van Zeller has confirmed having received “private information” that Mário Lino “wants to move forward now on a decision in favour of Ota, and that’s why he is discrediting the study,” commissioned by the CIP.

The study referred to, carried out under the supervision of an academic at Lisbon’s High Technical Institute, found a number of reasons why three billion euros would be shaved off the cost of the new airport if were built at Alcochete.

Equally furious, Rui Moreira said last week: “I’m not going to take attempts to brush off the study from any member of the ministry, and we will present it this month.”

Discrediting the study

The President of the CIP believes that the minister wants to rubbish the study, point by point, in a series of manoeuvres aimed at discrediting the study lead by Professor José Manuel Viegas.

Francisco van Zeller says that the CIP will fight back against the government and its lobbies which are trying to “mount a desperate campaign against Alcochete.”

Francisco van Zeller also referred to a dirty press campaign by the government through a series of articles fed to three different newspapers over three days “highlighting alleged errors in the CIP study over questions such as road and rail accessibility.”

The Minister, according to van Zeller, will have put pressure on RAVE, the company responsible for a range of studies on transport access, including the high speed TGV rail link, when in fact the organization responsible for carrying out transport access comparison studies for the two sites was the IST (Instituto Superior Técnico).

RAVE Director, Carlos Fernandes, has already confirmed that TGV access on the south bank of the river Tejo, and advanced by his company, and favours the construction of a new airport at Alcochete rather than Ota.

The government has already said that the main Lisbon terminal for the TGV high speed rail link will be the Gare Oriente station at Parque das Nações, which would be expanded by architect Santiago Calatrava.


The expansion of the existing station will involve the addition of two or three high speed rail tracks and it is understood that the Spanish architect has already accepted the commission.

The project would also involve the construction of a new passenger terminal for the TGV by the architect who originally designed the Gare Oriente ten years ago. It would also include an additional trunk line leading to the new Lisbon International Airport.

The new TGV terminal would be serviced by an airport shuttle and would have advance check-in facilities.

The government has assured that the expansion of the Gare Oriente would require some modest expropriations of military and REN electrical installations without affecting important buildings in the area.

With regards to the location of the new airport, the opposition right-wing CDS-PP parliamentary group is demanding an official parliamentary enquiry involving the government and the CIP on the decision of where to put the airport.

There have been persistent rumours that secret land deals at Ota involving powerful political and business lobbies had been sewn up with the government years ago.

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