Call for airport at Monte Real
The President of the Central Portugal Tourism Bureau has called for an international airport at Monte Real to serve Portugal’s growing religious tourism industry centred around the holy Catholic shrine of Fátima.
Pedro Machado made his appeal on Thursday on the sidelines of te VII International Religious Tourism Workshops in Fátima where he said that it was time for the Monte Real Air Base, a base for the Portuguese airforce, to be converted into a civil aviation airport.
According to the Central Portugal Tourism Bureau, Machado made his appeal at the event which took place in both Guarda and Fátima and suggested that the low-cost airline Ryanair could operate a new service between the French holy sanctuary of Lourdes and Fátima.
“Ryanair has unveiled a new service between Lourdes and Lisbon and Machado said it was a “clear signal that the time was now right to press ahead with plans for an airport serving the centre of Portugal that would serve the Sanctuary at Fátima.”
In 2018 Fátima, one of the most important Catholic shrines in Europe alongside Lourdes and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, welcomed over 7 million visitors, a number that would justify the opening of an airport according to a study by the Leiria Region Intermunicipal Community.
Last year this study said that to be viable, an airport near Fátima would need to see 600-700,000 passengers a year.
“With the number of Fátima pilgrims, Monte Real has all the objective conditions to become a reality” says Machado.
It is estimated that the cost of converting the military airbase into a civilian airport would be around €30 million. The suggested name for the airport could be Monte Real Fátima.
“The opening up of Monte Real to civil aviation offers a window of opportunity for the region and country which will be possible through an investment of €30 million, infinitely less than other (similar) investments.
“Furthermore, it can act as a way to relieve pressure on Lisbon International Airport which, through lack of capacity, is turning away around 2 million passengers per year,” he added.