SEF borders agency warns ‘that’s not the answer…’
Minister for Interior Administration José Luís Carneiro has been ‘talking tough’ over the recent arrivals’ hall chaos at Lisbon Aiport.
In interview with Público, the minister who took over his role in January, stressed “a contingency team was ready to enter into service” when the last queues built up – and if SEF borders agency had given a heads-up in time, it could have been put in place.
His bottom line was that there are no more reasons for long queues to form now that extra personnel (both SEF and PSP police) are being drafted in. If they transpire, heads will roll.
SEF syndicate leader Acácio Pereira has said “this is not the moment to comment” on Mr Carneiro’s position – but he clearly believes it makes little sense.
“The problem, as much as it may upset some people, cannot be resolved through the human resources of SEF”, he told Correio da Manhã.
As to the reinforcement of PSP agents at the airport, to help, this “serves simply to create, in the eyes of the public, a false sensation of resolution, of satisfaction – nothing more. It is in no way a solution, but it may minimise the damages”, he accepted.
Solving the problem will involve two changes: one long-term (a new airport: “Lisbon’s is more than saturated in its capacity”, says Pereira), the other logistic: “there has to be better distribution of flights throughout the day so that agglomerations like those we have seen are avoided”.
José Luís Carneiro is certainly onboard regarding the long-term solution. Talk by government ministers on the ‘need for a new airport’ has peppered national media all week.
“It is truly a question of national interest”, repeated Mr Carneiro – defending “ample social consensus”, including support of the PSD.
“Obviously if we had an airport with another potential we would be taking advantage today of capturing tourists for the country which, due to the constraints of the current airport, are not being taken advantage of. The Minister for Infrastructures is absolutely right when he says there needs to be wide political consensus over this national objective”.
But as to sacking trained SEF personnel if there is another build-up of frustrated passengers as dozens of international flights land within minutes of each other, “SEF rejects responsibilities”, says CM.
José Luís Carneiro’s threat follows the admission even by ANA airports authority and TAP (Portugal’s flagship airline) that passport control build-ups this summer are inevitable.