A new technical committee has been created to examine proposals old and new for a second airport for Lisbon, and to make a final recommendation by the end of next year. The process has gotten a boost from a new law that ended local councils' ability to veto a decision.
For those who remember Berlin's dozen-year struggle to build its new airport, it's worth remembering that the long stretch came after the decision on where to build it. Portugal is just now starting over on a decades-old quest to plan a new airport that will either replace or supplement the existing airport, which is too close-in to be expanded.
Several times in the past few years it appeared that there would be a green light for conversion of the military airbase at Montijo, across the river from the city, but each time it came close new objections were raised, especially from the municipal councils adjoining the area, which had veto power over the project.
After the most recent elections, the governing party, PS, won a majority in parliament and has passed a law removing the local council vetoes in the name of national over local interest.
The new commission will consider all the existing proposed options, but may include more if it chooses. Several of the proposals would keep the existing Humberto Delgado airport as the main airport and build a new secondary field, while others would make the new airport the main one and fade Delgado into a secondary role, or close it altogether. The three existing candidates are Montijo, Alcochete and Santarem. Over the years, seventeen sites have been considered.
Image: the military airfield at Montijo, proposed as a site for a new airport.