PORTUGAL’S NEW airport site at Ota has been compared to a rickety baby. Reis Borges, a specialist in airport planning, says that the new site has severe limitations from both meteorological and security points of view, which the government is well aware of.
The expert points out that a met weather station has never been placed at Ota to monitor conditions so essential to air traffic. “It is a vital prerequisite, for any government choosing a certain site to construct an airport, to have made studies on weather and atmospheric conditions as well as wind speeds, in order to ensure that the site is safe for planes landing and taking off,” he warned.
Reis Borges, who is advising the government’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport, likened Ota to a limping baby with rickets. He went on to remind readers of the daily newspaper Portugal Diário of a series of incidents and tragic accidents that had occurred at the small military air base at Ota over the years, including the July 1955 air crash at Serra do Carvalho, in which eight pilots lost their lives. In the crash investigation report, the treacherous and notorious foggy conditions at Ota were cited as contributing towards the crash.
In 1998, when Reis Borges was President of the Public Works and Transport advisory board, he asked the then government for all the available studies on the airport but “never got to see them”.
The former socialist parliamentary deputy accused the powers-that-be of “not wanting to know” and only being interested in “talking to financiers and construction magnates”. He also said that there were other technical problems that blighted the new airport site, such as the impossibility of having two runways operating at the same time because of their proximity to the Montejunto mountains.