Government considers Montijo airport to relieve Lisbon’s “strangulation”

Environmentalists have wasted no time querying announcements that “the only answer” to relieving stress at Lisbon’s massively busy airport may be to open up Montijo air base to commercial flights.

For now, the government is simply “studying” the logistics of sharing flights between the two airports, though a decision has to be made this year for the simple reason that Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado complex simply cannot cope.

It “exceeded the barrier of 20 million passengers” in 2015 – an increase of 10.7% on the year before, explains SIC TV news – and as media sources throughout the world keep reporting: even more visitors to Portugal are expected this year.

Tourism is growing exponentially, and Portugal’s growing popularity has been boosted even more this week by news that it is one of the world’s safest countries.

But environmental association ZERO is not convinced that the government’s planning will take important issues into account.

Has it thought about “accesses, nature conservation, noise and air pollution”, asks president Francisco Ferreira.

The idea could represent a “huge saving in terms of resources” that would otherwise have to be used building an airport from scratch (Benavente in Santarém has been mooted), but the location on the Tejo estuary is “an area of special protection, a natural reserve and on a migratory route” used by many thousands of birds.

Nature conservation is “perhaps one of the largest problems”, said Ferreira.

He warned that the existence of so many migrating birds could jeopardize flight safety, and will need intense study – as will the increase in emissions.

As Ferreira explained, aviation is responsible for 5.2% of national emissions. This is an increase of 28.5% on the tally pre-2000, and with more flights being laid on every few months, ZERO’s leader says it will soon become very difficult to relate this to the government’s pledge to be carbon-neutral by the year 2050.

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