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Praia da Vitória ,  July 23, 2018

Civil aviation certification to enhance importance of Lajes for development of Terceira and the Azores, says Vasco Cordeiro

The President of the Government stated that the certification of Lajes Base for permanent use by civil aviation, now formalised, is a significant step towards the enhancement of its importance in the economic and social development of Terceira and the Azores.
With the conclusion of this process, "it was possible to turn an important page in the history of this airport and the Region, placing it at the service of Terceira and the Azores with the conditions of becoming an important tool for wealth generation and job creation," stated Vasco Cordeiro in Praia da Vitória.
At the certification awarding ceremony, attended by the Minister of National Defence, Azeredo Lopes, and the Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, Pedro Marques, the President of the Government stressed that this "potential is already in sight," taking into account the use of this infrastructure in recent years.
"In 2014, Lajes airport registered 4,600 civil flights and about 490 thousand passengers. In 2017, this movement was already at 5,900 civil flights and more than 740 thousand passengers. We talked about significant growths above 28% and 50%, respectively," said the President of the Government.
In his speech, Vasco Cordeiro also recalled that the certification of Lajes Base for permanent use by civil aviation follows the protocol signed between the Azorean Government and the National Government on July 27, 2016, being also the result of the efforts undertaken during this period.
"Hence, we have complied with another measure included in the Economic Revitalisation Plan for Terceira Island (PREIT). As for the measures to be directly implemented by the National Government, it provided for the improvement of the conditions for civilian activities at Lajes Base by reducing operational constraints and making them more flexible for civil aviation," said Vasco Cordeiro.
"We are here, once again, to implement the measures envisioned under PREIT and highlight its significance to the island of Terceira in particular and to the Azores in general," stressed the President of the Government. On the occasion, he stressed that this outcome is the result of the commitment made by Prime Minister, António Costa, to turn PREIT into the guiding document for the National Government's action in coping with the consequences of the resizing of US military forces on this island.
"Today, before the end of the deadline set in the protocol to be signed on July 27 - within four days, it is true, but facts are facts - we are announcing the fulfilment of a commitment and the emergence of another important tool of great strategic importance for the development of our Region and of this island," said Vasco Cordeiro.
With regard to the effective results arising from this certification, Vasco Cordeiro stressed that there are two fundamental ideas that this process has managed to ensure, namely the predictability and flexibility of civil operations as well as the attractiveness and competitiveness of this airport.
The certification for permanent civil use will result in increased autonomy in the management of air traffic. In fact, the direct and immediate responsibility for the authorisation of civil flights will be transferred to Lajes Civil Airport in coordination with the Base Command. Hence, it will no longer be needed to request authorisations to the National Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Force Staff 72 hours in advance.
This certification establishes the rules and procedures for civil operation and defines the responsibilities of Lajes Civil Airport and the Air Force in a clear and transparent manner, thus reinforcing the objectivity and, consequently, the predictability of that operation.
Moreover, any temporary restrictions on civil aviation due to National Defence imperatives or due to military activities or exercises should be notified to the civil party at least two weeks in advance, except in unforeseeable circumstances when such notification should occur as soon as possible.
According to Vasco Cordeiro, this obligation of early notification allows airlines to properly adjust their operation, thereby reducing the risk of irregularities.
Moreover, the protocol, among other provisions, regulates and clarifies the management and coordination between civil and military entities as well as the possibility of civil aviation using the military airport aprons. The latter applies to situations when the "Charlie Apron" is used to maximum capacity or in case of being used by larger aircraft.
"Last but not least, with this certification, the Autonomous Region of the Azores has an important strategic tool to seize the enormous potential of the civil aviation industry in our development. We must take into account the potential of the infrastructure itself, with an airstrip stretching over three kilometres, the privileged geographical location halfway between Europe and America and the current situation of the sector, which is currently near saturation point in terms of air space and operating capacity," said Vasco Cordeiro.
In his speech, the President of the Government stated that many of those who have "repeatedly defended the importance and necessity of this certification over the years are now covering and disguising their incapacity to achieve it or, worse, they are the first to question its usefulness."
"This is the ground on which the guilty conscience of those who, having served in the National Government, have never done so, despite the direct and functional possibility of moving forward with the certification process. There are also those who regard permanent and destructive criticism as the only way of dealing with the achievements and victories in favour of our land and our islands," said Vasco Cordeiro.
The President of the Government also pointed out that the Lajes Airport Cargo Terminal is another investment in the process of being implemented. This is an infra of crucial importance for the economic development of this island and for the development of the Region.
"After the formalities of transferring the area and its acquisition by the Region, the Government will be able to award the contract work within days, following the public tender we have launched in a timely manner," announced Vasco Cordeiro.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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