The boom in tourism in Portugal has brought economic prosperity for nearly all stakeholders and TAP has seen some pretty amazing growth over the last 18 months.
This week they announced their plans for the rest of 2019 and for 2020 with the creation of two new routes to the USA and greater operational efficiency.
Goodbye LCY, Barcelona and Lyon
Squarely putting blame on Brexit, TAP reports a reduced customer demand and unfortunately has decided to end its routes out of London City Airport. It's a shame as these were genuinely convenient flight times. The service will end on 25th October 2019 for Porto and 26th October for Lisbon.
Growing 20% in a year and surpassing 2 million passengers between 2017-2018 and 11% in January – July 2019 alone, this is causing some route reshuffles at Porto airport and there will be an end of flights to Barcelona (why!?!) and Lyon.
A new Shuttle
The “shuttle”, or “Ponte Aérea”, services are pretty cool as, being very short flights, passenger and operational efficiency is key. There are dedicated check in desks and the shuttle routes depart from dedicated gates at very predictable times. This regularity is designed to help compete with trains as it's just 3 hours to get to Lisbon by train and 2 hours if you fly, including check in.
Currently the shuttle runs only between Porto and Lisbon, but cutting away the three aforementioned destinations from Porto frees these planes up to create 6 new Shuttles to Madrid, up from the 3 flights per day which aren't marketed as this shuttle service. There will be one more shuttle to Lisbon although I was under the impression there was already enough coverage on this route!
There will also be a new shuttle between Lisbon and Madrid, though the number of flights is not announced. I expect this to be far higher than Porto, obviously.
Intercontinental Porto routes
There will be a new Porto to Funchal flight at midday every day (which is handy if you are a British Airways flyer looking to get BAEC status cheaply) served by an A321new Long Range, and another Porto – Sao Paulo flight bringing the weekly total to four.
Big increase in United States flights
There will be daily flights between 4 daily flights to New York from Portugal:
- 2x Lisbon – New York JFK,
- 1x Lisbon – Newark EWR, and,
- 1x Porto – Newark EWR.
and to Miami there will be an increase of 3 flights per week to bring the number to 10.
New daily flights will be launched to Washington DC and Chicago from Lisbon.
Other routes – Brazil, Israel, Russia
The A321neo LR being their preferred plane, there will be an increase to services to:
- North East Brazil, by adding an extra flight to Natal and Belém
- Tel Aviv
Lisbon stronghold continues, but route reshuffles…
There will be a reduced service to Stuttgart, Cologne and Basel. TAP have not specified how many flights will be dropped but days with 2 flights per day will almost certainly be reduced to one.
In its place there will be a new route between Lisbon – Santiago de Compostela (good if you only want to do the Pilgrimage in one direction) and an extra flight per day to the cities of: Bilbao, Valencia and Malaga (up to 3x daily), and Seville (up to 4x daily), and Casablanca in Morocco which goes to 2x daily.
TAP's plans for route expansion into America signifies their obvious desire to attract the ‘wealthier' travellers to Portugal. While regrettable in the case of London and Lyon, a reduced route network with greater frequency, including the new Shuttle routes, indicates a strong desire to bring focus and efficiency to the table.