New airport is priority investment for 2019

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The Portuguese government’s investment priorities for 2019 will be centred around a second airport for Lisbon and a new 2020 Rail Plan.

The investment plan laid out in the State Budget for 2019 includes the beginning of spending associated to expanding the capacity of airport facilities in the Lisbon region after completing the negotiations for the concession contract signed by ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal in 2012 according to the Budget Proposal delivered to Parliament.

The Government insists, for example, that “as part of the 2020 Rail Plan, a total investment of over €2Bn is foreseen, both for building new railway lines covering 214 km and for the modernisation of existing lines covering around 900 km”, with special focus on the works to the main railways routes belonging to the National Rail Network including the Minho Line, Douro Line, North Line, Beira Baixa Line, the start of the North and South International Corridor Lines (Sines-Caia) as well as modernisation and electrification of the West and Algarve Lines.”

The investment too that will be made to resolve the lack of capacity at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado airport is a priority according to the document delivered on Monday. “The government accepts the entering into force of the contract concession renegotiated with ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal” as well as implementing  a “new Air Traffic Control Management system.”

A record number of passengers at Lisbon airport has been causing delays while a lack of space to park planes threatens the ability of several airlines, including TAP Portugal to introduce new flights and increase flights on existing routes to meet demand.

Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado airport already reached maximum capacity in 2016 and there are concerns that if the Government does not provide an alternative airport it will harm Portugal’s tourism industry and economy.

In 2017, Lisbon airport saw 26.7 million passengers, a 66 percent increase over four years while 4.5 million tourists passed through Lisbon airport. Air traffic was up by 11% in the first eight months of 2018.

The Portuguese government, national airline TAP and the tourism sector all agree that the construction of a second airport for the capital is vital now.

The plan under discussion is to convert Montijo airbase on the opposite side of the Tagus River from Lisbon into a civil airport.

As a stop-gap measure, a little-used secondary runway at the current airport, located in the city’s northern suburbs, will be closed to make space to park planes.

The Montijo project, with a capacity of 50 million passengers per year, has been the subject of discussions since February 2017 between the government and ANA, the operator of 10 Portuguese airports owned by French construction and management firm Vinci.