The long running saga of how to solve the problem of Lisbon airport and expanding capacity for the capital may finally be coming to an end, with the government announcing their solution in the form of building a new airport in Alcochete.

According to an order published today in Diário da República, the executive has decided to build an airport at Campo de Tiro de Alcochete, "a structural solution that offers better prospects for future growth", along with the construction of the complementary airport at Montijo, "a solution which is faster and less expensive to implement".

Three prong approach

"Thus, along with the construction of the complementary airport of Montijo [...], the Government's decision provides that the airport in the Campo de Tiro de Alcochete [...] will be, on the one hand, immediately subject to planning and design of the project (with the aim of obtaining an environmental impact statement as soon as possible) and that, on the other hand, its construction can begin as soon as demand at Humberto Delgado Airport or Montijo Airport reaches certain capacity factors and /or a given time reference to be defined", reads the order signed by the Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Hugo Santos Mendes.

Once these capacity factors and/or time references are reached - the exact definition of which will result from a necessary renegotiation of the Portuguese State's concession contract with ANA -, the concessionaire's obligation to start the works will then be triggered.

In the order in which it is recalled that since the 1960s, various possible locations have been discussed, north and south of the Tagus, the government states that they have “opted for a decision that makes the two horizons compatible”.

Solving the short term problems

On the one hand, the decision solves “the short-term problem - with a limited solution in terms of its ability to expand in the future, but with a faster implementation - without preventing the future development of a more structural solution, which, although more long-term in its implementation, is capable of serving the country in the long term”.

The solution now presented resumes the project relating to the Montijo air base as a complementary airport (in 2021, ANAC decided not to carry out a prior feasibility assessment, after an unfavourable opinion from the Seixal and Moita chambers), but abandons the intention to increase the capacity of the Humberto Delgado Airport, “due to the estimated difficulty in obtaining an environmental impact statement that would make it viable and the social environment of increasingly generalized rejection of a possible increase in the number of movements per hour at Humberto Delgado Airport”.

Works in Lisbon

In the new solution, the Humberto Delgado Airport will be subject to works - not to increase its capacity as previously planned -, but with a view to “improving the operationality of the infrastructure, in order to increase the quality of the passengers' experience, the reduction of delays in operations and the improvement of the airport's environmental performance”.

The executive explains that they have also put aside the hypothesis of Montijo as a single airport due to the "very high" risks of an airport infrastructure with two long runways on the Montijo peninsula not obtaining environmental authorisation to move forward.

In conclusion: "The Government intends to proceed with the construction of the complementary airport of Montijo and to immediately plan the construction of a new 'stand alone' airport [unique] in the Campo de Tiro de Alcochete". That is, in the long term, the intention is that Alcochete airport will be the only one serving the Lisbon region.