With a new TAP Air Portugal flight from London City airport, Lisbon is in the spotlight. By Andrew Doherty.
From The trams dating back to the 1800s that still service the city to the grandeur of the Baixa district’s plazas, Lisbon is a go-to destination for travellers seeking sunshine, culture and top notch cuisine. And TAP Air Portugal’s new direct route from London City airport should make it easier for London-based clients to reach the Portuguese capital.
I spoke to Ricardo Dinis, general sales manager at TAP Air Portugal, at the airline’s route launch party in London. he explained that the flights were established to bolster tourism and to help drive business travel.
“Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, has been growing as both a tourist and business destination; London City airport is seven minutes from Canary Warf, 22 minutes from Bank and 35 minutes on the DLR from the West end.”
The new flights will operate twice-daily from Monday to Friday with a single daily service at weekends. They join the existing Heathrow and Gatwick flights currently serving London.
Antonio Padeira, director, UK at Turismo de Portugal, expects the new route to boost UK visitor numbers.
“This year the number of TAP passengers carried between London and Lisbon has already increased by 28%. This growth rate should hold until the end of the year, and the total number of passengers is expected to exceed 700,000,” he said.
The UK is Portugal’s main international market, representing 17.9% of the €2 billion generated by tourism and in 2016 Brits made up 16.7% of 1.9 million visitors.
“In 2017 we expect the same trends to continue,” added Padeira.
To help boost projected arrival increases, the Portuguese government has been in talks regarding the construction of a new airport in the municipality of montijo by 2019.
“The project is to build a new airport south of Lisbon at an existing military air base that will be able to better serve the capital,” he added.
Additional infrastructure developments include the opening of a new €22 million cruise terminal earlier this month, which can accommodate Oasis-class ships – the largest currently in operation.
Padeira asserted working with the UK trade remained vital for the tourism authority and there will be a number of fam trips and training sessions scheduled for 2018.
“Portugal needs to keep abreast of new trends and ensure that its offerings develop to cater for these constant evolutions,” he added.