LISBON, Portugal: Officials in Lisbon have warned that despite plans to almost double border control staff, long queues of passengers forced to wait hours at Lisbon airport are likely to continue into the summer tourist season.
In a statement made on Sunday, airport management company ANA said passengers waited for more than three hours in arrivals this week at the capital's airport, blaming insufficient numbers of staff and border checkpoints.
In an interview with Reuters, officials said Lisbon airport was "an old facility" unable to handle the leap in passenger numbers after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
They also accused ANA, which channeled 60 flights through the airport on Sunday in a short period of time, of poorly managing the distribution of inbound flights.
More than 100,000 people at Portuguese airports were checked in by border staff over the weekend, half of them in Lisbon.
According to the National Institute of Statistics, the number of passengers passing through Portugal's airports soared to 3.6 million in March, only 16 percent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels and eight times higher than in the same month in 2021.
Regarding the government's plans to hire 238 new border control officers at Portugal's six airports by 4th July, bringing the total number to 529, officials said it would not solve the airport's "incapacity" to receive so many passengers, with one official saying, "The summer will continue to be problematic."
Also, Cristina Siza Vieira, chief executive of Portugal's hotel association AHP, warned that airport queues were "bad for the country's image" and could cool demand from markets outside Europe, including from North America, Canada and Brazil, she told Reuters.