“Few companies in world could handle Lisbon airport megaproject”

Architects throw new curved ball into Lisbon airport headache

With politicians constantly bemoaning “the 50-year delay” in sorting a new airport ‘megaproject’ for Lisbon, the Order of Architects (OA) has thrown a dastardly curved ball into the mix: the independent technical commission ‘examining the future’ of the long-awaited infrastructure hasn’t been looking at the ‘bigger picture’.

There is a lack of technical and logistical capacity among the majority of the world’s companies to successfully take such a project on board.

In a statement to the press today, OA explains: “If, as is expected, given the ‘tight timetable’, the contract defined to carry out this megaproject is a single procedure for all these needs, then there will be few companies in the world with the technical and logistical capacity to present themselves for its execution”.

Says Lusa: “The institution regretted that it had only played a minor role in the work of the Independent Technical Commission (CTI) that is studying possible locations for the Lisbon region’s airport solution, to which it conveyed its concerns at a hearing at the end of October, requested by the Order’s new board, which took office in the same month”.

“We remain highly concerned about the process and the airport design to be proposed,” said OA president Avelino Oliveira, adding that “architects’ main concerns have not been addressed within the scope of the work being carried out“.

For the organisation, the commission’s work is focusing on “the where and the when”, without considering “the how”.

“This planning problem, which perverts the system and benefits large corporations, will have direct consequences for taxpayers’ pockets,” OA adds, suggesting wherever it is, the airport design will lead to the creation of a new city, where the “more than 10,000 workers” who will build the airport and all the supporting infrastructure will be housed.

OA foresees this project “will be a challenge for Portuguese and even Iberian technicians”, says Lusa, meaning logistics would have to fall to “the two or three international groups (from the USA, England, Asia) that have the capacity to do this”.

For this reason, OA is seeking “a much more active role in the process”. It wants to promote a debate between specialised technicians “on all the urban, planning and design needs that are essential for building an airport, regardless of the location chosen”.

With all this ringing in the air, Lusa returns to the so-called ‘plan’: the commission is due to deliver its final report at the end of the year, “or at the latest at the beginning of January…” and, according to minister for infrastructures João Galamba, the government will then take a decision “quickly”.

On April 27, the commission announced nine possible options for the new airport, which included five defined by the government plus Portela+Alcochete, Portela+Pegões, Rio Frio+Poceirão and Pegões.

A Cabinet resolution approved last year set up the commission to analyse five hypotheses: (Portela + Montijo; Montijo + Portela; Alcochete; Portela + Santarém; Santarém), envisaging that other options could be added, which they were following suggestions from the wider public and various interested groups. 

Source material: LUSA