Portugal Gets Boost Of Capacity After Green List Addition

With Portugal being added to UK’s green list last week, Brits have been booking flights to the country’s popular holiday destinations. As a result, flight traffic between the UK and Portugal is up, and some carriers are even swapping smaller jets for larger aircraft in order to accommodate the increased demand.

Portugal Gets Boost Of Capacity After Green List Addition
TUI Airways replaced its Boeing 737-800s with a Boeing 787-8 on its service between Birmingham (BHX) and Faro (FAO). Photo: Russell Lee via Wikimedia Commons 

Flight traffic boost from Green List addition

Comparing flight traffic data between May 10th and May 17th, UK Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) NATS saw a significant bump in flights between the UK and Portugal following the update to the Green List. The new additions to the list will allow Brits to take off to Portugal, Gibraltar, and Iceland without having to quarantine upon returning to the UK.

“Since Christmas, air traffic numbers have been bumping along at around 20% of “normal” and Easter weekend, which is typically one of the busiest for flight movements, was the lowest in recent history.”NATS

The ANSP found that Portugal had the biggest jump in traffic last Monday, with 78 flights on May 17th, compared to just 10 on the previous Monday. Despite still being just 36% pre-pandemic levels, it’s still a relatively big jump.

Flights operating for the first time in several months

Looking at flights to Portuguese cities, we see that many services haven’t flown for several months.

Indeed, flights to Faro like TUI’s TOM3XK and British Airways’ BA2698 haven’t operated since September and October 2020, respectively. The same goes for Wizz Air and Ryanair, who also had Faro services paused for several months and are now flying again.

British Airways’ flights from London Heathrow to Portugal’s capital of Lisbon are now seeing multiple flights per day. The carrier’s BA500 and BA504 services hadn’t operated since mid-January and late December, respectively.

A321 British Airways
Many flights haven’t operated for several months. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

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Larger aircraft to meet demand

Our friends over at RadarBox.com also noticed that it wasn’t just an increase in flights. Indeed, some of these flights were being operated by larger aircraft.

For example, the aforementioned TUI flight TOM3XK from Birmingham to Faro was flown by a Boeing 737-800 when it was operating last September. Yesterday, however, the airline placed a Boeing 787-8 on the route instead.

TUI UK’s Boeing 737-800s accommodate 189 passengers in an all-economy setup. Meanwhile, the airline’s 787-8 is configured with two classes and will seat 47 passengers in premium economy and another 241 in standard economy. Comparing the capacities of the two aircraft, that’s an impressive 52% boost.

As the summer holiday season rapidly approaches, we’ll likely see a little bit of the pent-up demand that airlines have been hoping for. The continuation of COVID-19 vaccinations should undoubtedly boost confidence among travelers that the overall situation will continue to improve, with a reduced risk that the government might impose sudden quarantine requirements for those away on holidays.

Have you made travel plans since the UK added some countries to its Green List? Let us know by leaving a comment.