man at airport

Options for Portugal’s ‘desperately needed’ airport now at 17

More than half century of indecision: is final straight in sight? 

In 2019, the Socialist government of António Costa signed a €1.3 billion deal that promised to call a halt to a half century of procrastination. Only it didn’t. The plan to construct Lisbon’s desperately needed overspill airport at Montijo Air Force base, right next door to an important birding wetland, ran headlong into complications, vetoes and confusion.

A brief moment of ‘apparent decision taking’ following in 2022 – only to see the PM himself reverse the whole thing, saying there had been an unfortunate mistake – one of his ministers – who has since resigned following another scandal – had made a decision that was not his to make, said Mr Costa.

Thus, more than four years since the €1.3 billion deal, the country is no nearer knowing where its ‘desperately needed’ new airport will be.

The independent technical commission tasked with studying this conundrum has just closed a public participation process, explaining that it now has 17 options in 15 different locations to sift through. 

It will be drawing up a shortlist of what it believes to be the best of the bunch, to present to the government “by the end of the year” (deadline really is December 31).

Slowly, slowly – many in the aviation sector would say “much too slowly” – the location will emerge for the airport that could bring 50 million tourists into the country every year, (or so we were told in 2019…) But it continues to be a case of “don’t hold your breath”.

Público reveals that public participation actually came up with “more than 700 options, but only eight have been added to the list to be analysed by the independent commission”. These are Apostiça, Rio Frio, Poceirão and Pegões (Setúbal district); Sintra, Évora, Ota and Tancos (Lisbon district). Various combinations of these locations are now added to various combinations involving Montijo, Alcochete, Santarém and Beja.

“Only the options that have a chance of succeeding will be put on the final list and handed to the government”, says the paper.

[email protected]