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Lack of Fuel Could Jeopardise Madeira Airport

The strike by dangerous goods drivers in Portugal forced TAP to cancel their Lisbon to Faro flight (TP1907) today as no aviation fuel was delivered this morning.  The industrial action has severely impacted both Lisbon and Faro airports as they only have a limited supply of fuel available

Although TAP announced that they have created contingency plans, they are also hoping for a quick resolution to the driver’s disputes.  As such, Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado airport was without fuel from midday today, with Aeroporto’s de Portugal (ANA) stating that not even the minimum level of service had been possible.

On hearing the news that lack of fuel was causing problems at Lisbon airport, and subsequently causing possible disruption to flights between Madeira and the mainland, Paulo Neves contacted the Portuguese Minister of the Environment, Matos Fernandes, remonstrating that the situation is ‘unacceptable,’ especially as Madeira is reliant on air transport.  Also, the Social Democrat MEP tackled the minister, stating that this situation could cause ‘severe damage to both Madeira and Porto Santo, especially during the Easter holidays, a time of high demand for both residents and tourists.

In response, Matos Fernandes sought to reassure Madeira’s politicians saying that a Civil Order was in place to ensure that lack of fuel would not affect flights to national and regional airports.

Portugal’s dangerous goods drivers are striking for several reasons including wanting to have their ‘specific professional category’ recognised. The drivers industrial action should not affect Madeiran drivers as their contracts of employment were formalised on the 9th of March this year.

Late this evening the Portuguese Government issued an alert from today to 23.59 on the 21st of April.  Due to the drivers’ strike the government are implementing ‘exceptional measures’ to ensure that supplies continue to be delivered.  The Portuguese administration issued a press statement stating that their security forces, civil protection agents are at the ready to patrol and provide escorts to ensure that fuel supplies are delivered safely. Also, the government has called on drivers from both the public and private sector who hold a heavy goods ADR endorsed driving licence, i.e. firefighters, to volunteer as emergency relief drivers. The GNR have also remained on guard throughout Portugal to ensure that fuel lorries can be refuelled without being targetted.

So far there has been pandemonium as people have flocked to petrol stations causing congestion and chaos on the roads.  Given this, the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM) has issued a plea asking Portuguese citizens to give way to emergency service vehicles in need of refuelling.

ANA has confirmed that the industrial action is affecting both Faro and Lisbon airport.

Samantha Gannon

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