“ANA has no economic interest in one solution or another,” guaranteed Thierry Ligonnière, who was heard by the parliamentary committee for Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing, about the construction of the new Lisbon airport at Air Base No. 6, in Montijo, whose request was rejected by the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC), for lack of a positive opinion from all the municipalities involved.
Following the rejection, the State decided to move forward with a strategic environmental assessment, which will analyse three options: Humberto Delgado Airport as the main airport and complemented by Montijo’s; Montijo as the main airport and complemented by Humberto Delgado; or the construction of a new airport at the Alcochete firing range.
“We consider that Montijo is the fastest solution [...] and without costs for taxpayers, which is not the case with the other options,” added the chief executive of ANA, which has a concession contract with the state to operate airports in the country.
In relation to the concession contract with the State, he explained that it includes two options: either a greenfield option that involves deactivating the current Lisbon airport, or an alternative solution proposed by the concession holder.
The head of ANA/Vinci explained that whichever solution provided for in the contract was chosen, it would have to be “rebalanced through an increase in fees or, if this is not enough, recourse to public resources”, in short, ANA would not lose out.
Asked about a possible compensation owed by the state to ANA if it chooses a location other than Montijo, suggested in 2015 by airport manager Vinci, Thierry Ligonnière assured that ANA is “a partner of the Portuguese state”, which is “sovereign” in the choice of location for the new airport.
“As such, there is no place for compensation for the choice of one or another solution provided for in the contract. [...] We are partners of the State in the development of airport infrastructures and, therefore, we will naturally collaborate in the implementation of the solution chosen, whatever it may be,” he assured.
Thierry Ligonnière explained that the Montijo solution would be concluded within four years, from the signing of the contract defining the implementation conditions, whereas a solution in Alcochete would require the process to start all over again, with the environmental assessment and the carrying out of the necessary studies, for example, which would take longer to be concluded.
The price of that delay, he said, would be the absence of revenue and loss of opportunities, from the resumption of air traffic to pre-pandemic values, which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicates for 2024.
Asked about an ANA report dated 2007, in which the manager advised against the Montijo option for airport capacity expansion, Thierry Ligonnière said he did not know the details of the study, as it was carried out before the sale of ANA to the French group Vinci, completed in 2013, but argued that “the circumstances that existed in 2007 no longer exist” and that the world “has changed dramatically in the last two years”.
“We are always available to accompany the Portuguese State [...] to objectively define, help, advise on the airport solutions that best fit with the specifications of the concession,” reiterated the official, adding that these specifications define that “there is no recourse to public money” in the construction of this infrastructure.
In relation to the need for a positive opinion from all the affected municipalities, the chairman of the ANA executive board said only that he trusted the State “to safeguard the general interest,” namely via legislation.