Lisbon airport “may have to refuse flights next year”

Government increases pressure for consensus on capital’s second airport

Pedro Nuno Santos, Portugal’s minister for infrastructure and housing, has warned that Lisbon airport may well have to turn away flights next year as tourism recovers.

The message – given during an outdoor function with Lisbon’s PSD mayor Carlos Moedas – was focused on the need for “a broad consensus” over the building of a new terminal.

Right now, the long-running debate over where Lisbon’s second airport should be is ‘treading water’ – very much like the scenario painted for Montijo, the primary location, which scientists have warned could be underwater by 2050.

The government however is thinking much more short-term: Mr Nuno Santos told reporters yesterday that Lisbon airport won’t be turning flights away this year – albeit passengers arriving on them are already suffering huge bottlenecks at passport control.

Next year, he maintains “we will most likely reach, we hope, the best year (for tourism) ever (…) then we will start having problems with refusing flights again.” 

Pedro Nuno Santos indicated that “in the coming days” the government will give “more information about the airport,” writes Lusa.

“We have a problem that is structural, with an airport that is overloaded and needs an answer,” he reiterated.

National news sources haven’t really alluded to the fact that what is happening at Lisbon airport is very much what is happening with the country’s State health service. It too is overloaded and needs an answer.

To illustrate shared similarities even more, when questioned about the queues at passport control, Nuno Santos stressed “the interior ministry has a contingency plan, which will be fully implemented from the beginning of July and we hope that from this point of view of the queues it will help”.

The health service too has a contingency plan, but as tabloid Correio da Manhã has pointed out, within 24-hours of its announcement another three A&E departments had closed their doors…

Reading between the lines, what does appear to be happening is an effort to wriggle out of the strategic environmental impact assessment, previously agreed for the option of Montijo, but still not implemented.

SIC’s political commentator Luís Marques Mendes said as much recently, referring to António Costa’s comment that he would like to know the PSD’s new leader Luís Montenegro’s stand on the new airport

According to Lusa, “the institute of mobility and transport (IMT) awarded the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) to consortium COBA/Ineco on April 8” but the contract has not yet been signed.

These assessments do not come cheap.

Says Lusa: “According to information released by IMT, the winning consortium, comprising the Portuguese COBA – Engineering and Environmental Consultants and Ineco, 51% owned by the Spanish state, submitted a proposal worth €1,999,980”.

“Also competing were PricewaterhouseCoopers – Assessoria de Gestão and Quadrante – Engenharia e Consultoria (€2,295,000), Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva, Ernst & Young, Over Arup & Partners, SAU, Leadin Aviation Consulting and Ramboll Iberia (€2 million) and IDAD – Instituto do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento, TIS PT – Consultores em Transportes, Inovação e Sistemas, FUNDEC – Associação para a Formação e o Desenvolvimento em Engenharia Civil e Arquitetura and Senerengivia – Consultores de Engenharia (€1,996,882)”.

Source: Lusa