In 1492, Columbus set sail from the Iberian peninsular and discovered (or introduced) the Americas to Europe. Lisbon then became the launching point for travelers heading west from the east until the dawn of mass transportation.
However, thanks to TAP Portugal’s ambition with their new A330neo fleet, Lisbon might become the springboard from Asia to South America yet again.
What are TAP Portugal’s plans?
Essentially, TAP Portugal wants to turn its Lisbon hub into a feeding port for travelers heading west and east between South America and Asia. Currently, South America is too far away from most Asian destinations, with flights having to connect either through Los Angeles or through the middle east.
The new hope would be to capture some of that trans-Pacific-Atlantic trade and connect these two massive growing regions with one another, at the same time giving easy access to europe.
And they have the perfect plane to do it.
TAP Portugal’s new fleet
Just last week, TAP Portugal took ownership of the world’s first commercial Airbus A330-900. It can seat up to 304 passengers on board, fly 7,200nmi (Or 13,334km). TAP Portugal has another 20 A330-900s on order.
The Airbus A330neo, of course, is a direct competitor to the Boeing 787.
To better understand the range of the aircraft if it operated out of the hub of Portugal, we have overlayed it on this map.
As you can see, operating out the hub of Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), TAP would be able to reach everywhere apart from Hawaii and Oceania. Passengers from Asia would be able to easily transfer (especially those from North Asia, such as Korea and Japan) and continue on to anywhere in South America.
It currently takes 28 hours to fly from Asia to South America (Via Dubai). It is possible that via Portugal (over the northern ice caps) could take far less time.
With South America proving to be far more lucrative for Airlines (Such as Norwegian who continues to up frequencies and add routes) and Asia being the biggest aviation market in the world, it would be foolish for TAP Portugal to ignore this opportunity.
But they might just have some competition.
What about Royal Air Maroc?
Unfortunately for TAP Portugal, they are not the only airline in a great position to become a new South America to Asia hub. The flag carrier for Morroco, Royal Air Maroc, is not only rumored to be the latest member of One World (Which we will find out later today!), but their location makes them perfect for travel between the two continents, as well as accessing the continent of Africa.
Royal Air Maroc has also invested in a fleet of Dreamliners that would make them up to the task.
Additionally, if they do join Oneworld tomorrow, it would be a game changer for Star Alliance member TAP Portugal.
What do you think? Is TAP Portugal and Lisbon going to be the next Dubai?