Lisbon’s mayor appeals for ‘breakthrough’ in decision on new Montijo airport

  • Lusa
  • 16 July 2020

Fernando Medina, Lisbon's mayor, has called for a "breakthrough" in the decision to build the new Montijo airport.

The Mayor of Lisbon has called today for a “breakthrough” in the decision to build the new Montijo airport, warning that the drop in air traffic “is temporary”.

“It’s essential to move forward with the expansion of capacity, it’s essential that this capacity is done in a way that contributes to and is the engine of the region’s economy, and that it doesn’t overload what is already a violation of the law and citizens’ rights,” said Fernando Medina (PS).

The mayor was speaking at a hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment of Montijo Airport and the enlargement of Humberto Delgado Airport, in Parliament, where he explained that the Lisbon City Council has not formalized any position on the construction of the new airport at Air Base No. 6, in Montijo, due to “different opinions of the various political groups”.

However, he stated that there is “a very clear position on the urgency of a breakthrough” in the construction of a new airport solution.

“Often there is talk of the Montijo solution and also of an Alcochete solution, but what is clear, seen from the other side [Lisbon], is that either means the maintenance of Humberto Delgado Airport for many decades within the city and within an area that today is quite dense from a population and residential point of view”.

For this reason, he asked that the context caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the reduction in passenger numbers at Lisbon Airport, “be taken advantage of to make strategic decisions for the future.”

“I have no illusion that the drop in air traffic is temporary, the growth in air traffic will return in force,” he pointed out.

At this hearing, the mayor took the opportunity to ask for the “support of parliament” in several steps, because there has been “a great opacity regarding the impacts of air traffic.”

“I would like to ask the Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) for a formal request on the number of infringements and fines detected in relation to the legal regime in force on night flights. I think that there was a serious omission of the regulator to night flights in the city of Lisbon”, he pointed out.

According to Fernando Medina, there are “many hundreds of flights justified under the exception criteria”, but “no charges have been filed”, nor is there any company “that has been charged for breaking the law and disturbing the quality of life of any resident of the municipality.”

For the mayor, this information should not only be public, but a portal should be created “with the identification of all flights operated with a daily update.”

He also advocated the installation of an autonomous system “for measuring noise levels and atmospheric emissions, including microparticles, in the area of influence of the Humberto Delgado airport.

As part of the new airport project, he asked the Portuguese Environment Agency to send a “detailed expansion plan on Lisbon’s airport expansion capacity and its accessibility plan, which has not yet happened.”

In this parliamentary hearing, the communist mayors of Moita and Seixal reaffirmed that it is a “mistake” to build the new airport in Montijo, while Barreiro (PS) supported the project for the development it could bring to the region.

The Mayor of Montijo, Nuno Canta (PS), was not present at the hearing.

In June, the Minister of Infrastructure said in parliament that the government wants to go ahead with the project of the new airport in Montijo, but as there seems to be no willingness of parliament to change the law, this is dependent on the favourable opinions of several municipalities.

According to the Montijo Airport Environmental Impact Statement, five communist municipalities in the Setúbal district gave a negative opinion to the construction of the airport in Montijo (Moita, Seixal, Sesimbra, Setúbal and Palmela) and four socialist municipalities (Montijo, Alcochete, Barreiro and Almada, in the same district) gave a positive opinion.