In a clear indication of how the government will push through plans for an airport terminal at Montijo airbase, prime minister António Costa said yesterday that the project will allow for the creation of 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The ‘hidden detail’ is that none of the necessary background reports - not least an environmental impact study on how the project will affect migrating birds - have been undertaken.
In other words, no matter what these exercises throw up, chances are that the multi-million project will be going ahead.
Transport specialist Fernandes Nunes da Silva, who worked on possible locations for the new airport in the government of António Guterres, has told Rádio Renascença that Montijo is almost certainly not the best option, but it is the most rapid, in terms of getting everything into place.
“It is the option that most quickly allows for an increase in operational capacity in the Lisbon area with the minimum investment in terms of accessibility infrastructures”, he told the station.
But arguments about bird migration routes - used to shoot down an alternative location at Rio Fria (Palmela) in the past - look like they will be “reverted to give Montijo viability” when, in fact, the number of birds likely to be affected will be many more.
Environmentalists are also concerned about noise and air pollution.
But Fernandes Nunes da Silva suggests that any voices against look like being drowned out by the clear “interests of Vinci” (ANA’s French owners).
Vinci’s interests and the fact that the government has already signed an agreement with ANA, whereby the latter will invest between €300 and €400 million to upgrade both Lisbon airport and the new terminal at Montijo, mean that works are almost certain to start in 2019 and conclude in 20121.
President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already even suggested a name for the new terminal: “Mário Soares”, thus the ‘missing detail’ promises very little threat to the scheme, that will also involve a surface metro train running along the futuristic Vasco da Gama bridge and paid for in part by Lusoponte (the concession that operates the bridge).
The reason for the new terminal is ‘overload’, explain reports, saying Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado is only designed to cope with 22 million passengers per year, and that number was surpassed in 2016.
With all signs pointing to increased growth in tourism - and Humberto Delgado hemmed in on all sides by the sprawling capital - there simply is no other option than leaving Lisbon in search of a new airport site.