European flag carrier TAP Portugal is to introduce a third daily rotation between Lisbon and the Spanish city of Valencia from June 13, 2017. The additional six times weekly flight (daily except Mondays) will add to the existing 13 times weekly operation already available on the city pair.
The new flight is part of a significant growth of the airline’s activities into Spain and is being driven by strong onward passenger flows via Lisbon. According to the airline “40 per cent of all passengers are travelling to other destinations, especially Porto, Funchal, New York, Miami, Boston, São Paulo and Dakar”.
TAP is adding 23 new weekly frequencies into Spain during 2017, its largest international country network by capacity. It currently flies to Madrid, Barcelona, Astúrias, Bilbao, A Coruña, Málaga, Seville, Valencia and Vigo, and has recently announced new services to Alicante and Gran Canaria also starting from June 2017. This summer the Spanish market accounts for 11.2 per cent of its available seats out of Lisbon Airport, ahead of France (10.5 per cent), Brazil (10.0 per cent), Germany (8.2 per cent) and Italy (8.0 per cent).
Through the summer 2017 schedule, TAP will offer a total of up to 198 flights per week between Portugal and Spain. In the first trimester of this year, almost 413,000 passengers travelled with TAP between the countries, an increase of more than 30 per cent on the same period last year.
TAP first launched up to twice daily flights between Lisbon and Valencia in March 2009 using a small 19-seat Beech 1900D airliner of its sister business Portugália Airlines. The route grew to an up to three times daily schedule from the following year and was boosted to a 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 operation from October 2011, albeit frequencies were reduced back to twice weekly.
The introduction of the Fokker 100 on an increasing number of flights boosted capacity in subsequent years, but since March 2016 brand new ATR 72-600s (flown under the TAP Express brand by White Airways) have been utilised on the route, on an exclusive basis from July 2016 as the Dutch-built Fokkers have been retired from commercial service.
TAP is currently the sole operator on the Lisbon – Valencia market having pushed incumbent Iberia off the route two years after its own arrival. The Spanish national carrier served the city pair up to March 2011 through regional partner Air Nostrum using a mix of Bombardier jet and turboprop equipment (albeit it did resume flights for a limited period in July and August 2011).
Analysis of traffic data from the AirVision Market Intelligence tool from Sabre Airline Solutions supports TAP’s data on transfer flows. In 2016 an estimated 46.6 per cent of passengers on the Valencia – Lisbon link were connecting beyond the Portuguese capital. While local Valencia – Lisbon flows were the largest city pair (53.4 per cent), other leading markets included Valencia – Oporto, Valencia – Newark, Valencia – Miami, Valencia – Funchal and Valencia – Dakar.
TAP’s frequency boost means that the Valencia – Lisbon city pair will exceed 100,000 annual seats for the first time ever in 2017 with an average of 152 seats per day available in each direction. This is a 29.1 per cent rise on 2016, a year which also recorded a 24.0 per cent year-on-year rise.