Featured image: Arturo La Roche/Airways

Portugal Decides on New Lisbon Airport Location

DALLAS — The Council of Ministers of Portugal has chosen to establish the New Lisbon Airport (NAL) at the Alcochete Firing Range. Meanwhile, the Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) will be temporarily maintained and its capacity increased until the NAL becomes operational.

The Alcochete Firing Range is a military firing and bombing range located in Samora Correia, in Benavente, Portugal. Since 1993, it is a unit of the Portuguese Air Force (PoAF). due to the construction, The firing rage will be relocated near Mértola, a small town at the southeast of Portugal.

According to Spanish aviation news outlet aviaciononline.com, the new airport will be named after the poet Luís de Camões. Once fully built, the NAL will be the sole airport in the region. It is designed to allow for future expansion to meet long-term demand, stimulate economic growth, and integrate with other accessibility projects.

In line with the Concession Contract of LIS, the NAL will initially feature two runways, capable of handling 90 to 95 movements per hour. There is also potential for expansion to 4 runways to accommodate an estimated passenger traffic that could exceed 100 million by 2050.

Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Single Airport Benefits, Costs

Opting for a single airport helps reduce environmental and social impacts in the Lisbon region. A two-airport solution would double the negative environmental effects, whereas a single airport, situated in low population density areas, minimizes these impacts. Lisbon is currently the second European capital with the highest number of residents exposed to aircraft noise.

As per the aforementioned report, the chjoise "also allows accommodating TAP’s expansion plans, whose preliminary projections are for 190-250 aircraft by 2050."

The NAL is expected to stimulate economic activity in the Arco Ribeirinho Sul area due to its intermodality, integrating the airport with railway and road networks, and providing access to Sines, which is pivotal for the national logistics hub.

The Alcochete Firing Range was selected over Vendas Novas due to several advantages: it is entirely on public land (avoiding the need for costly expropriations), already has an Environmental Impact Statement (albeit expired), is closer to Lisbon city center (reducing travel time and costs), and is near major road and rail routes (alleviating traffic congestion in Lisbon).

The total cost for constructing the two runways at the NAL is estimated at €6 billion—€3.2 billion for the first runway and €2.8 billion for the second. The first runway is scheduled to be completed by 2030 and the second by 2031. The government is negotiating with the Concessionaire to expedite the bidding process for the new airport, as specified in the concession contract.

Map: CellarDoor85 - Own work, CC BY 4.0

Enhancements at Humberto Delgado Airport

The second part of the decision involves increasing the capacity of LIS to handle "45 movements per hour and investments in terminals and accessibilities," in accordance with the ANA concession contract.

Lisbon Airport has been experiencing operational congestion, exceeding the limits set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) since 2018. This has resulted in delays and lower passenger service ratings, with a score of 3.5 out of 5 in the 2023 service quality questionnaire. Departure punctuality was at 52.2% in 2022.

To address the growing short-term demand, projected to reach 39 million passengers by 2030, these enhancements are imperative.

Finally, the project is integrated with the High-Speed Rail Lines (LAV), allowing AHD to capture passengers from underlying air routes and improve access to Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which is favored by passengers in the Central region.

These decisions reflect the government's commitment to improving Portugal's aviation infrastructure while considering environmental, social, and economic factors.

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