El Palomar airport has been given the green light for flights operations by a judge on the condition that its operations are limited to three takeoffs and three landings per day.
El Palomar will thus now be able to begin operations by low-cost carriers that have been eyeing the airport.
Formerly a military airport, El Palomar is located 28 kilometers from downtown Buenos Aires and has been mentioned as a possible hub for low-cost entrants like FlyBondi and Norwegian. Transportation Minister Guillermo Dietrich has said in the past that the terminal will be made available to any airlines that meet the requirements and that it will be a low-cost terminal.
Federal Judge Martina Forns, who had halted works at the airport pending an environmental assessment, today gave her approval for the use of the airport for commercial purposes. The government had approved El Palomar at the end of 2017 as a commercial airport, making it the third to serve Greater Buenos Aires along with Aeroparque and Ezeiza.
Judge Forns in January upheld an injunction presented by an organization grouping residents of El Palomar, who filed a formal request regarding the potential environmental impact that air travel can cause in the area near the airport.
In addition to this request, the judge’s decision referenced the fact that years ago, the airport had been deemed a sitio de la memoria, (literally, “a place of memory”, that’s to say, a place of remembrance) as it was used during the last military dictatorship as a clandestine detention center.
This denomination came in accordance with two decrees issued by the second Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration. This week Horacio Pietragalla, national lawmaker for Fernández de Kirchner’s Unidad Ciudadana, filed a criminal complaint against government officials over the “destruction” of the site
Transport Ministry sources quoted by Télam indicated that the limit of three take-offs and landings per day would not disrupt plans as this stage includes flights for two take-offs and landings per day. Forns also required the total removal of the remaining explosive material that remains in the military sections of the airport. The removal of the material had been planned.
The judge has set out that environmental assessments continue to take place during the airport’s operations and that any expansion in flight numbers must previously go through fresh impact assessments and consultations with local residents.