Campus and Community

Unmoderated conversations focused on the solution for the new airport

The alumni dinner held on 23rd May celebrated the 112th anniversary of Técnico and included a conversation about the location of the new Lisbon airport.

The 2nd edition of the “Unmoderated Conversations” took place on the 112th anniversary of Técnico, celebrated on 23rd May. The debate took place after the alumni dinner, which brought together about 150 alumni.

Just before the start of the conversation, the President of Técnico, Rogério Colaço, announced the Técnico Alumni Day, to be celebrated every year on 18th October. The Vice-President of Técnico for Operations and Corporate Partnerships, professor Pedro Amaral, highlighted that the Técnico alumni platform celebrates one year of existence, with about 2500 registered users.

The alumni Maria Rosário Partidário, General Coordinator of the Independent Technical Commission for the new airport in the Lisbon region, Carlos Mineiro Aires, President of the High Council of Public Works and Duarte Afonso, Senior Director Operations Integrity at TAP, participated in the unmoderated conversation “The new Lisbon Airport: Options and Challenges”.

The alumni expressed concerns and highlighted the challenges that must be taken into account when making a decision on the location of the new Lisbon airport. According to Maria Rosário Partidário, Full Professor at Técnico, the “AeroParticipa” online platform has registered nearly 800 opinions from citizens.

Carlos Mineiro Aires, a member of the Técnico School Council, who is also collaborating in this decision-making process, explained that the result of the work of the Independent Technical Commission, to be presented at the end of 2023, will not be a closed solution, but rather “an assessment of the competing solutions”.

Maria Rosário Partidário shared that the working group she currently leads is working “in three time periods”, long-term (more than 50 years), short-term (during which “the overcrowding at Portela airport must be solved”) and a transition period (10 years). The latter will correspond to the gap “between now and when a minimum infrastructure can be put in place”. The question is therefore “What will be done until a more definitive solution is found?”

According to Duarte Afonso, “the medium term is a black box that nobody knows how it will be solved” and raises other questions: “Who will go there? Will there be an increase or a relief in air traffic?”. And he adds: “Deep down, if this new airport expands gradually there will always be a period when it is still small and unattractive” to airlines. “How will it be possible to reverse the scale and make this airport more appealing?” is the “great short-term challenge” for the TAP executive.

As for the possibility that Lisbon Military Air Base (Figo Maduro Airport) could take part in this transition, Rosário Partidário says “it can help mitigate overcrowding” at Humberto Delgado Airport. Duarte Afonso shares the same view: “Figo Maduro brings space and this increase in capacity may reduce the airport’s environmental footprint”, he concludes.

According to the Técnico Full Professor, this is “a complex problem” and not “a complicated problem”, which could be solved “with an algorithm”. Some topics discussed by the Technical Commission are: “What makes a world-class airport?”, “What should be done with Humberto Delgado Airport?”, “What model of airport do we want?” And she adds: “The issue of accessibility is at the centre of the debate.”

After the debate, the president of the Técnico Alumni Association (AAAIST), Ana Dias, invited those present to continue socialising after the alumni dinner, which included live music and a birthday cake to congratulate Técnico.