A €4.5 levy will be charged on every departing or arriving flight at the Montijo airbase which is to be turned into Lisbon’s second airport.
This measure will replace the initial demand by the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) – which this month gave the project its final ‘thumbs up’ – that forced national airport authority ANA to pay €200,000 every year as compensation for the airport’s controversial construction.
Now it will be airlines footing this new ‘pollution bill’, reports Público newspaper.
This effectively spares ANA from paying €200,000 a year until 2062, when its concession contract granting control over the country’s airport ends. In other words, the airport authority will be saving around €8 million until 2062.
Público reports that in the first draft of its environmental impact statement, which was “favourable but with conditions”, Portugal’s Environmental Agency demanded a €48 million compensation package.
This package included the payment of between €15 million and €20 million to reduce the impact of the noise, €10 million for two new Transtejo boats and €7.2 million for the creation of a “financial mechanism to protect and conserve birds”.
However, the €200,000 yearly fee that had also been included was removed from APA’s final environmental impact statement and replaced with the €4.5 levy.
The government is dead set on moving forward with works to turn the Montijo air base into Lisbon’s second airport.
Earlier this month, Minister for Planning and Infrastructures Pedro Nuno Santos basically said there is no time or money to investigate alternatives to the option of Montijo (click here).
He backed this controversial statement up by saying that Portugal is losing hundreds of millions of euros because of ‘strangulations’ at the capital’s only (Humberto Delgado) airport.
However, the project has been criticised particularly by environmentalists who cite the threat of increased noise pollution for thousands in the flight path, increased risks to health, the threat of ‘bird strike’ – due to the proximity of a significant birding wetland – and the threat of flooding – due to Montijo’s low-lying situation close to the Tejo river.
Landing strip concerns
Meantime, TSF radio reports that the national civil aviation authority (ANAC) is concerned about the length of the airport’s future landing strip.
Says ANAC, the project for the new airport involves extending the current landing strip by 390 metres to a total of 2,400m.
“The problem,” according to ANAC, “is that this length does not fulfil the operation requirements of the B737-800 plane, used by one of the low-cost companies (Ryanair) which will be operating at Montijo”.
The aviation authority explains that this could lead to planes having to fly with limitations to their cargo or passenger numbers and even fuel levels.
ANA sees things differently, however, claiming that the 2,400m landing strip won’t be a problem.
TSF points out that the Montijo landing strip will be the shortest of all airports in Portugal – Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Beja, Ponta Delgada and Funchal.
Removal of Air Force aircraft to cost €100 million
Minister of National Defence João Gomes Cravinho said on Wednesday that the removal of Air Force aircraft from the Montijo airbase will cost around €100 million.
As he explained, the operation will involve transferring several helicopters and planes that are stationed in Montijo at the Sintra and Beja bases.