TAP Portugal (TP) announced plans for major investment across the airline, including refurbishing cabin interiors and rebranding its regional subsidiary Portugalia.
It has been six months since the Portuguese government sold 61% of the national carrier to a consortium led by JetBlue Airways and Azul SA founder David Neeleman in 2015 for US$390 million.
As the airline celebrates its 70th year of operation, it will embark in some major changes including:
- The rebranding of regional subsidiary Portugalia as TAP Express, with the creation of a new hourly Porto-Lisbon shuttle service starting at €39 (~$42), and fleet replacement with eight new ATR72 aircraft and nine Embarer 190s
- €60 million (~US$65 million) to be spent refurbishing cabin interiors, with a further €2 million (~US$2.2 million) investment in new digital reservation platforms
- €11 million (~US$12 million) in retrofitting 12 A320 family aircraft with sharklet technology. This will reduce fuel burn by up to 3.5 percent. The annual CO2 output reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft is equivalent to the amount produced by around 200 cars annually.
- Two new A330-200 aircraft to be delivered by June 2016, enabling the carrier to increase connections to North America. The new aircraft will feature an update of the business class product with 20 lie-flat seats (down 4 from the current 2-2-2 configuration), and economy class will feature new slimline seating (seat count will likely increase from 239-244 to around 260).
- The carrier has a total of 53 new aircraft on order. International operations will have Airbus A330-900neo joining the fleet replacing the older A330-200s and A340-300.
Continental fleet will have the newer Airbus A320neo and A321neo which will benefit from lower operating costs and increase capacity from newer galley/washroom designs.
The Lisbon based airline is part of Star Alliance and operates to more than 85 destinations in 35 countries. It will use the new aircraft fleet to expand operations internationally. Its current network to the Americas include daily flights to:
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
- Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport (GIG)
- El Dorado International Airport (BOG)
- Tocumen International Airport (PTY)
- Simón Bolívar International Airport (CCS)
It has strengthen its ties with AZUL Brazilian Airlines through a more comprehensive codesharing arrangement. As at December 2015, the airline offered 20 new destinations in Brazil served by AZUL’s domestic network under its own code. The expansion allows AZUL access to a bigger European network while improve feeder traffic for TAP Portugal.
As of March 27, 2016, the airline plans to tweak its schedule by ending service to on the following routes:
- Porto <> Barcelona, Brussels, Rome and Milan
- Lisbon <> Bogotá/Panama, Gothenburg, Hannover, Zagreb, Budapest and Bucharest
2016 is a transition year for TAP Portugal. The airline embarks on a multi-year plan to turn itself into a bigger player linking Brazilian traffic to Europe and beyond. It is not unreasonable to assume that the airline might build deeper ties with AZUL Brazilian Airlines. In addition, it might build a tie in with JetBlue Airways and expand into the North America market with new service.