New airport may never take off if Montijo plan rejected

 In Aviation, Construction, Development, News

The company which manages Portugal’s airports, ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal (Vinci Group) has warned that if the latest plan to build an airport at Montijo is rejected by local authorities, there is no Plan B at the present time.

Plans to build a modern international airport located outside the central Lisbon City area have been discussed since the late 1960s with further intensification in the first decade of the millennium under the José Sócrates government.
Various possibilities included Rio Frio (Palmela) and Ota (Alenquer) in the Alentejo, Beja, also in the Alentejo, and Alcochete on land on the South bank of the River Tagus formerly owned by the Portuguese Defence Ministry.
The António Costa government, however, has settled on Montijo, also on Lisbon’s river’s south bank, except not all of the local municipal councils can agree.
ANA continues to argue that building a new hub at Montijo is the best option and that everything is ready to advance with the investment.
But if the option is taken off the table, it would mean having to start from scratch and look for an alternative site which, taking into consideration technical and pubic reports, and public enquiries and consultation periods could take even more years.
In May 2010, because of the financial crisis, the then prime minister José Sócrates postponed the project for the second airport, at that time the mooted site was Alcochete.
After the crisis the PS government of António Costa settled on Montijo because there was already a Portuguese airforce base there, and Alcochete had a very real negative environmental impact on the River Tagus estuary wetlands and marshes where important species of migratory birds, including flamingo, spend the winter.
For the Montijo site, a study by NAV (Air Navigation of Portugal) concluded that the undertaking of the project would force extreme restrictions on military activity in the Lisbon region.
Moreover, in May 2019 the Portuguese environmental group Quercus said that Montijo was an acceptable site and was the lesser of two evils compared to Alcochete, providing that environmental impact protection requirements were put in place.
But then, in March 2021, Portugal’s aviation regulator ANAC rejected the evaluation request submitted by ANA for the Montijo airport plan, citing disagreements with the several local municipalities in and around the new airport, as well as environmental concerns. There is now currently a stalemate between the Government, the local councils and ANAC.