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Image via TAP Portugal.

APEX Insight: TAP Portugal has announced the introduction of new regional aircraft and services. The airline’s CEO, Fernando Pinto, says the changes “will enable better service on the point-to-point connections and much better conditions for an optimized connectivity to the Lisbon hub operations.” Other improvements underway include a €60-million investment to retrofit the aircraft interiors of the fleet and installation of a €2-million digital reservations platform.

TAP Portugal has announced a renewal of its regional fleet to harmonize with its mainline commercial identity, and a redesign of its products and services through new interiors and updated digital platforms. The airline will introduce a Porto-Lisbon shuttle and a rebranded regional TAP Express to replace the Portugália, PGA airline brand. A new fleet of eight ATR 72 and nine Embraer E190 aircraft will be added to the regional fleet. TAP expects to better its annual operating results by €60 million with these improvements.

The airline touts these aircraft as more comfortable and silent, with 40 percent lower fuel consumption. These new aircraft will increase the airline’s seating capacity by 47 percent and allow schedule improvements to hourly flights for TAP’s Porto-Lisbon shuttle service.

“The launch of the Porto-Lisbon shuttle will enable better service on the point-to-point connections and much better conditions for an optimized connectivity to the Lisbon hub operations, providing customers with easy access to the whole TAP network,” says Fernando Pinto, TAP’s CEO, in the company’s official announcement.

“The ‘Ponte Aérea’ will offer very competitive prices to travel between Porto and Lisbon and an innovative product, with dedicated check-in counters and boarding gates along with fast and easy passenger boarding,” Pinto states. “As of next March 27, TAP will increase the number of weekly flights to destinations already served in Europe, Brazil, the United States and Africa, reinforcing our product consistency.”

Pinto adds, “We are not only renewing our regional fleet, but also adding consistency to the TAP brand and product by reinforcing its commercial identity and redesigning our product and services as well.”

Other improvements underway include orders for 53 new aircraft, a €60-million investment to retrofit the aircraft interiors of the fleet, a €11-million investment to install sharklets on 12 A320-family aircraft for improved efficiency and the addition of a new €2-million digital reservations platform.

“The ‘Ponte Aérea’ will offer very competitive prices to travel between Porto and Lisbon and an innovative product, with dedicated check-in counters and boarding gates along with fast and easy passenger boarding.” – Fernando Pinto, TAP Portugal CEO

In 2015, the Portuguese government approved the sale of the national flagship carrier to the Atlantic Gateway consortium led by David Neeleman (CEO of Brazil’s Azul and founder of JetBlue) and Humberto Pedrosa (owner of Barraqueiro Transports).

The consortium made a €10-million cash payment and committed to injecting additional capital of €348 million into TAP. It also absorbed TAP’s previous debt of €1.06 billion, and agreed to supply TAP with 53 new aircraft while ensuring the Portuguese government that it would keep TAP’s main hub in Lisbon for at least 30 years.

Pinto credits the new ownership for giving the airline “the investment capacity to expand and turn into a more modern and competitive airline, one that is responsive to the needs of Customers and strongly committed to serve the markets where it operates.”