Alcochete or Montijo? That is the question
Differences of political opinion have emerged over the location of the new Lisbon International airport.
A candidate to lead the PS socialist party into possible victory at the elections on March 10, the former infrastructures minister Pedro Nuno Santos, favours Alcochete, while the current front runner for the main opposition PSD party, Luís Montenegro thinks Montijo would be the better choice.
A third, the PS favourite to win the party leadership, José Luís Carneiro, also thinks Montijo would be the better option.
The decision on the location of the new airport will be taken by whichever government wins the elections in March next year.
The Independent Technical Commission (CTI), which was set up to advise the government of the pros and cons of each option, has concluded that a mixture of the current Humberto Delgado Lisbon International Airport and a complementary second airport at Alcochete on the South side of the River Tagus, is the way to go.
ANA, the company that manages Portugal’s airports for the overall holding company Vinci, wants Montijo because it is nearer to Lisbon and will be more profitable for Vinci.
However, the CTI prefers Alcochete because it has a greater capacity for future expansion and is more viable in the long term, even though in the short term it would cost the Portuguese tax payer an arm and a leg.
Pedro Nuno Santos says that if he is selected to take the PS party into the elections and wins, he will choose Alcochete, saying that the choice had been selected over 10 years ago by the then PS José Sócrates government, and only did not advance because of the troika intervention in 2011.
However, Alcochete could have a price tag of €3.23Bn and this is with just one runway. Montijo, on the other hand, would cost an estimated €1.38Bn.
What seems increasingly certain, however, is that none of the other 17 sites originally suggested, which were subsequently whittled down to just nine: Portela+Montijo; Montijo+Portela; Alcochete; Portela +Santarém; and Santarém; Portela+Alcochete; Pegões; Portela+Pegões; and Rio Frio+Poceirão; the only two candidates now being discussed in political circles seem to be Montijo and Alcochete.
In an interview with the online news outlet ECO, the president of Portugal’s largest and most successful construction and infrastructures company Mota-Engil, Carlos Mota Santos, said that he thought it was important that decisions were taken in the best interest of the economy and as a consequence, in the best interest of its companies, however, he would not be drawn into which was the best option for the new airport.