Lisbon airport “should be renamed chaos”, says El País

Desperate queues and shambolic scenes at Lisbon airport over the festive season have prompted Spanish daily paper El País to say the capital’s overworked airport should be renamed “chaos”.

The situation – exacerbated by SEF borders agency’s work to rule – has been highlighted in the country’s top selling tabloid today with images that leave nothing to the imagination.

“It takes hours to pass frontier control”, says the caption on a photograph of a hall filled with disgruntled-looking people.

One of the paper’s directors appears to have been caught in the maelstrom, taking to print to describe “torture at the frontiers”.

“What is happening at Lisbon airport is a national embarrassment and a parable of this rudderless country”, blasts Octávio Ribeiro, who likens the scenes as those of “the old Soviet Union”.

The “sadistic” action by border control staff in an airport already stretched to its limits “is an attack on the good image of Portugal and a violent shot in the foot to the strategic sector of tourism”.

Ribeiro concludes that no tourist treated in such a way, either trying to enter this country and trying to leave “will ever want to return”.

Could he be right? Certainly US ‘investor Matthew Prince of IT company Cloudfare seems to think so.

Prince, purportedly on a trip to “study the hypothesis of investing in Portugal” “manifested his displeasure” over Twitter “after being held up in a queue for about two hours”, writes Correio da Manhã.

Admittedly, SEF has refuted the criticism, saying that only in 7.1% of cases have passengers been held up for more than an hour. But the bleats of indignation haven’t dimmed the effect of images, and indeed warnings that have been sounded again and again over the last couple of years.

TAP boss Antonaldo Neves has already labelled the Humberto Delgado airport as on-track for being “the worst in the world” in terms of punctuality. TAP’s planes “registered constant delays through 2018”, recalls CM, all due to internal problems in various areas.

ANA airports authority sent out a call to passengers pre-Christmas to try and check-in an hour early, to avoid frustrations, but the efficacy of this appeal has not been mentioned since.

Meantime, ANA’s bosses, Vinci Airports, are reported to be “buying Gatwick airport” for €3.2 billion.

Says CM, “with this acquisition the company will be controlling 46 airports in 12 countries” – the inference being that it can only be hoped they don’t all descend into the chaos being experienced in Lisbon.

Caption, from Matthew Prince’s Twitter feed: In Lisbon to investigate maybe opening a Cloudflare office here. The 2 hour line to get through immigration doesn’t make a very good first impression.