Portugal’s government has selected the military airfield of Alcochete as the site for a new airport in Lisbon with the capability of meeting projected demand of 100 million passengers annually by 2050.

The new Luis de Camoes airport at Alcochete, which is located to the east of city, will ultimately become Lisbon’s sole airport.

However, Portugal’s council of ministers has also approved the expansion of capacity at the current Humberto Delgado airport in order to meet growing demand until the new facility is open.

Airbus A330neo

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Home carrier TAP Air Portugal has plans to be operating up to 250 aircraft by 2050

The selection looks to end many years of debate and false starts over plans for a new airport in Lisbon, the government having outlined plans back in 2019 to open a new facility in 2022.

Luis de Camoes airport will be built at Campo de Tiro de Alcochete, which lies on the eastern side of the Tagus river bay. Humberto Delgado airport is situated on the western side of the bay.

The government, which took the decision at a council of ministers meeting on 14 May, says Luis de Camoes airport will “fully replace” Humberto Delgado, which will only remain active until the new airport is operational.

It has mandated the ministries of finance and infrastructure to carry out the “necessary steps” to complete the airport with “maximum speed, economic rationality, and efficiency”.

“The decision is based on an assessment of the work and conclusions of the independent technical committee that studied…several location alternatives,” it adds.

Luis de Camoes airport will have two runways, with capacity for 90-95 hourly aircraft movements, with the possibility of expanding to four runways which could enable handling of over 100 million passengers by 2020.

It says the first runway should be built by 2030, the second by 2031, putting their total cost at €6.1 billion ($6.6 billion).

“A single airport makes it possible to mitigate the environmental and social impact in the Lisbon region,” says the government, pointing out that a large number of inhabitants are exposed to noise from the current hub.

“The two-airport solution doubles the negative environmental effects and the single solution is located in areas with low population density.”

It will also accommodate plans by flag-carrier TAP Air Portugal which expects to have 190-250 aircraft by 2050.

The new airport’s location has served as a military firing range. It has advantages over the alternative Vendas Novas site, situated further east, because the firing range is sited entirely on public land, eliminating the burden of expropriation.

In the interim the government – citing poor punctuality rates and low passenger service ratings – will counter congestion at the current Lisbon airport by increasing aircraft movements and investing in the terminals.

”It is imperative to respond to growing demand in the short term, which projections point to 39 million passengers in 2030,” it says. Humberto Delgado airport handled a new high of over 33 million passengers in 2023.

Airport operator ANA will develop a phased plan to achieve an objective of 46-48 aircraft movements per hour at Humberto Delgado, while air navigation service Nav Portugal will look to expand the capacity of Lisbon airspace.

Luis de Camoes, after whom the new hub will be named, was a Portuguese poet and dramatist, one of the country’s most revered cultural figures. Portugal’s national day, 10 June, commemorates the date of de Camoes’ death in 1580.