More passport control officers at Faro Airport from June 1st
Following highly publicised queues at Faro airport, as hundreds of passengers experienced delays at passport control, the Foreigners and Borders Service is to ensure a further 13 officers will be on duty as from June 1st.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, SEF management announced a reinforcement of 36 inspectors for Lisbon Airport, 16 for Porto, two for Ponta Delgada and two for Funchal.
The increased staffing levels are, “in response to the increase in passenger flow at national airports predicted for the summer season.”
In addition to the new staff levels, which will remain in force until September 30th, the SEF confirmed that a recruitment drive is on, to take on 45 new inspectors.
According to the security force, “this increase in human resources will allow border posts to be further strengthened in the future, bearing in mind the expectation of a continuous increase in the number of passengers to be checked.”
Faro Airport made headlines, particularly in Ireland, due to the chaos that arose in the passport control zone on May 6th when only one SEF inspector was on duty. A flight to Dublin had to be delayed or it would have taken off with no passengers.
A spokesman for the airport operator, commented at the time that, “ANA Aeroportos de Portugal will do everything with the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) so that the situation does not repeat itself.”
Lisbon meltdown predicted
At Lisbon airport, Aeroportos de Portugal says it is available to make investments to increase capacity, yet all examples of overcrowding seem to the company to be a series of one offs.
Tour operators, aviation companies, customs inspectors and SEF inspectors say there is a risk the airport’s infrastructure will grind to a halt over the summer.
Government plans for an alternative airport at Montijo remain a distant dream, Lisbon airport is full yet faces a huge influx of tourists this year.
ANA says that in the first four months of 2018, Humberto Delgado Airport increased its throughput of passengers by 15.9% (more than 6 million of the 27.4 million last year) placing it at the top of the most profitable Vinci businesses it has in the world.
The reality of ANA’s lack of investment is that passengers are jammed at passport control and baggage reclaim, then struggle to get across the airport to the exits.
The airlines association, RENA, says, “We have been warning for a long time that the airport is bursting at the seams. The infrastructure needs improvements in the operational zones, with the same dedication and proactivity that the company showed in the commercial areas.”
The head of the SEF commented, “the question today is whether the government has the ability to force ANA to fulfill its contractual obligations?”
The office of the Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, Pedro Marques, has not commented about measures that could be taken so as not to damage tourism, mainly because the Montijo Air Force base conversion is his responsibility and is nowhere near happening.
The above content produced by swissinfo.ch is not intended for commercial use and may not be republished by third parties either wholly or in part.