New Lisbon Airport Site Confirmed, with PPP Playing its Part

Kevin Rozario


May 15, 2024

Portugal PM Luis Montenegro 2024 04 02 Agencia Lusa

Portugal's Prime Minister Luís Montenegro.

© Agência Lusa

The Portuguese government has finally approved the construction of a new international airport serving Lisbon located on the eastern side of the River Tagus. Reuters has also reported a government minister as saying that public-private partnerships (PPPs) would be part of the funding model.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Luís Montenegro, made a special broadcast relaying the conclusions of a Council of Ministers meeting. He stated: “The government has decided on the location and name of the New Lisbon Airport, a works plan for Humberto Delgado Airport, and the completion of studies for the construction of the third Tagus crossing, and high-speed rail connection between Lisbon and Madrid.

The announcement signals three giant infrastructure projects: a new airport, a new bridge over the Tagus, and a high-speed rail link between the capitals of Portugal and Spain. They should have the impact of boosting the Portuguese economy, attracting investment, and revitalizing a sparsely populated part of the country.

The New Lisbon Airport (NLA) will be built at Tiro de Alcochete, on the site of a military training facility (shooting range), with a view to fully replacing the congested and unpunctual Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS). The existing international gateway is operated by ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, part of the Vinci Group, and the main hub of Portugal’s flag carrier TAP Air Portugal.

The new airport, about 38km east of the capital, will be named after the poet, Luís de Camões and revives a project that has been under discussion for the best part of two decades.

Reuters said that Infrastructure Minister, Miguel Pinto Luz, has put the project cost at “up to €9 billion” ($9.8 billion) and be built using EU funds, PPPs, and airport tariffs, and not with state finances.

According to a government statement, NLA will be the region’s only airport when fully built and operational. It will be designed so that it can expand to accommodate long-term demand. This is to “stimulate aggregated economies and integrate with other ‘accessibility’ projects.”

Prime Minister Montenegro said that the recommendations, in line with the Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) concession contract, are for a base model based on two runways (with capacity for 90 to 95 movements per hour) and the possibility of expanding to four runways. This will accommodate a traffic estimate of 100 million passengers or more by 2050.


TAP Air Portugal A330 LR fabian joy unsplash

TAP Air Portugal may soon have a new home.

© Fabian Joy / Unsplash

A Single Airport on Environmental Grounds

The option to have a single airport, rather than two international gateways for Lisbon, has been made to mitigate the environmental and social impacts in the capital region. “A two-airport solution doubles the negative environmental effects and the single solution is located in an area with low population density,” says the government.

LIS is only seven kilometers from the city center and, as a result, Lisbon ranks second among European capitals with the most inhabitants exposed to aeronautical noise.

Moving east to a new site will also accommodate TAP’s expansion plans, whose preliminary projections are 190-250 aircraft in 2050. The airline carried 15.9 million passengers in 2023, still not quite reaching pre-pandemic levels, but saw record revenue at €4.2 billion (US$4.6 billion).

According to the government, NLA will act as a catalyst for economic activity in the Arco Ribeirinho Sul area, due to the intermodal transport between the airport, railway, and highway. The cost for two runways alone will top €6.1 billion, with the first to be built in 2030 and the second in 2031.

Another site that had been considered for a gateway was Vendas Novas, further east, but Alcochete is located entirely on public land unlike Vendas Novas, and it has already had an Environmental Impact Statement (though it is currently expired) and is closer to the center of Lisbon.