Report on Lisbon airport ruffles government’s feathers

in World · 19-07-2018 14:18:00 · 1 Comments

A report by Diário de Notícias (DN) highlighting the mounting difficulties Lisbon airport seems to be having in processing its ever-growing passenger volume, appears to have irked the government, which issued a strongly-worded response to all media outlets, saying the report “does not reflect the reality of the daily work carried out by SEF at Lisbon Airport”.

Under the headline ‘This place is run by amateurs. Photos from an angry passenger’, DN’s piece was illustrated with a picture submitted by an unidentified passenger, who claimed that just one passport control booth was operating at Lisbon airport on a busy Sunday afternoon.
“The usual 45 minutes’ delay to leave [the airport], one official stamping passports from outside the EU, it’s a joke”, the unnamed American citizen, author of the photo, is quoted as having said in comments cited by the newspaper, adding “the passengers queuing up are losing it, this is absolutely inconceivable, two people doing nothing in the arrivals. This place is run by amateurs”.
Lisbon airport and its increasingly long queues and nerve-frayingly lengthy waiting times at passport control and in departures have made headlines more than once in recent months.
“Today, Sunday 15 July, from 3pm and 5pm, between eight and 10 border control booths were open near the departure area, not ‘one official stamping passports from outside the EU’, as reported”, the Ministry of Home Affairs slammed in its official statement.
The statement elaborated that that afternoon, between 3pm and 5pm, “13 non-Schengen flights departed from Humberto Delgado Airport with approximately 2,550 passengers. At the same time, four flights arrived carrying 593 passengers, and the maximum waiting time recorded (provisional data) in departures peaked at 3.50pm, at approximately 30 minutes”.

The Ministry went on to explain that borders and immigration authority SEF has “met the increase in air traffic and passenger flow, and other challenges, with a reinforcement of personnel and adjustments to periods of greater movement”.
It said SEF has reinforced all air border points with 69 inspectors since the start of June.
Lisbon Airport received an extra 36 SEF inspectors; Faro 13, Porto 16, Ponta Delgada two and Funchal two.
“With this reinforcement, which runs until September 30, 212 SEF inspectors are currently working at border control operations at Lisbon Airport”, the Ministry stressed, saying that despite the “sporadic occurrence” of longer waiting times, “SEF refutes the generalisation that today’s report carries, with regard to the maximum peaks in waiting times registered at Lisbon Airport”.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, during the first half of 2018 the average waiting time for flights from third countries was 11 minutes in arrivals and three minutes in departures.
It said analysis carried out on June data reveals an average waiting time of 14 minutes in arrivals and four minutes in departures, the Ministry said, adding that in the case of EU citizens, “waiting times are even shorter, especially those using automatic systems (RAPID)”.
However, just last week Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina weighed in on the apparent state of affairs at Lisbon airport, saying he was “very concerned” by the goings on.
Mayor Medina described the frequent complaints of overly-long waiting times and delays as “to be expected” as the airport is “at bursting point”, brought on, in his opinion, by a “lack of decisions, over the years”, to avoid the current scenario.
In Medina’s view, more public investment should have been made to expand and increase capacity at Humberto Delgado Airport a long time ago.


Waited two and a half hours today 27/04/ 19 to clear the passport queue at Lisbon Airport. For most of that time there were two booths operating. A strange way to welcome tourists. Incoming passengers are treated with contempt. They knew who would be arriving when and thousands waited for hours. Never experienced this anywhere in the world. Baffling. People were so angry and justifiably so.

By Paul Tobias from Lisbon on 27-04-2019 07:36
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.