The ceremony, that took place on Wednesday, and coincided with Faro's "Municipality Day", during which a vast programme of commemorations was planned with figures who have now been called to be at the same time at the event with António Costa present. "I find it lamentable that the Prime Minister is promoting the ceremonies for Brazil's Independence, and its 200th anniversary, in Faro and that there's no-one from his office to get in touch with the Mayor".
The mayor said it was "a nuisance for everyone", and gave the example of Henrique Gouveia e Melo, Chief of Staff of the Navy and National Maritime Authority, who would be awarded the "Chave de Honra da Cidade de Faro", as well as José Apolinário, president of the Algarve's Coordination and Regional Development Commission (CCDR), who wias to receive a distinction in his capacity as former president of the Algarve capital.
"If I go to a neighbouring municipality to some ceremony, I phone the mayor and tell him I'll be there. The Prime Minister apparently doesn't have the habit of doing this, but maybe he should, to avoid this type of embarrassment", Bacalhau stressed.
In a letter sent to António Costa on 1st September, to which Lusa had access, the Mayor of Faro had already expressed his "discontent and sadness" at the way the ceremony to give Faro International Airport its new official name had been scheduled.
"We can only regret this unfortunate coincidence, which prejudices both celebrations", said Rogério Bacalhau, adding that he hopes there will be "openness so that this problem can be resolved".
In the same letter, the Algarve mayor also criticises the "tendency to obliterate the name of Faro from the Algarve's official nomenclature", contrary to the wishes of the people of Faro.
In mid-June, the Faro Municipal Assembly approved by majority vote, with only the PS voting against, a protest vote against the removal of the toponym "Faro" from the official designation of this infrastructure.
Faro airport received the new name of Aeroporto Gago Coutinho in a ceremony held last Wednesday at 10:30am, attended by António Costa.
On the same day, at 10:15am, the solemn session took place at Teatro das Figuras in Faro, as part of the commemorations of the municipality's day, which will be marked by tributes to civil servants, as well as personalities and collective entities that have marked and still mark the path of the municipality.
At the ceremony to change the airport's name, the Government intended to pay tribute to Admiral Gago Coutinho, a native of São Brás de Alportel, in the Faro district, on the occasion of the centenary of the first flight across the South Atlantic, which is considered one of the greatest feats in the history of air navigation.
The proposal, approved in several municipal assemblies of Algarve municipalities, arose from a citizens' movement that considered that the structure, inaugurated in 1965, should be named after the admiral.
In February 2020, the Municipal Assembly of São Brás de Alportel, where the former Navy officer's family is from, unanimously approved a motion in defence of attributing his name to Faro International Airport.
This motion, addressed to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructures and Housing and to the director of Faro Airport, was followed by others from various local authorities in the Algarve.
Born in 1869, Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho was appointed honorary director of the Portuguese Naval Academy in 1926, and distinguished as an airline pilot, having retired from military life in 1939.
He died in 1959, having become known internationally for the first air crossing of the South Atlantic, which linked Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.