Secret Of Success: TAP Air Portugal’s New Transatlantic Routes

This year, TAP Air Portugal diverted its attention to a pair of sunny hotspots across the Atlantic Ocean. The flag carrier of Portugal’s two new services to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic have gone down a treat when it comes to bookings. Simple Flying today spoke with Ricardo Dinis, TAP’s Sales Director for UK, Ireland and the Nordics, about these routes.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-941 CS-TUB
TAP’s A330neos have been busy gearing up for new operations this year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A significant launch

On March 27th, TAP conducted its first flight between Lisbon and Cancun with its Airbus A330neo. The thrice-weekly service heads west across the Atlantic on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It previously planned to begin the service to run alongside the 2020-2021 winter season. However, the pandemic pushed back plans.

TP176, the first-ever TAP flight to Mexico, departed Lisbon at 11:45 and arrived in Cancun at 04:10. TP177, the return, left the Mexican resort at 19:30 to land in Portugal at 10:30 the next day.

Since then, the flight has gone on to be a success. This momentum has continued across the Caribbean Sea to the Dominican Republic. 

TAP A330neo
At one point, the flight to Cancun was TAP’s only flight to Latin America amid the ongoing travel restrictions and related suspensions earlier this year. Photo: TAP Air Portugal

A series of expansions

Dinis highlights that the response to both the Cancun inauguration and the Punta Cana announcement has been fantastic. The airline’s customers are keen to fly, and the carrier is eager to bring back confidence in the market amid the tough conditions of the global health crisis. Overall, TAP has shown its ability to adapt to challenges.

“Everyone was forced to rethink their strategy and look at new things. We launched a few new routes during the pandemic. We had some new routes to Spain – the Canary Islands and others,” Dinis told Simple Flying.

“We opened Cancun and Punta Cana in the Caribbean. They’ve been a big surprise. They’re doing very well. We are going to keep trying there and maybe even expand in the Caribbean… We want to rebuild the market and rebuild the confidence of the consumer. 2022 is still going to be a challenge in the industry, but we’re focused on surviving and growing throughout the year and coming out a lot more positive than this one.”

From December 11th, TAP’s A330-900 aircraft will fly two round trip flights a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Flight TP179 will depart Lisbon at 17:20 to arrive in Punta Cana at 21:20. Meanwhile, TP178, the return flight to the capital of Portugal, leaves Punta Cana at 22:50 to land the next day at approximately 10:20.

Hear from aviation’s movers and shakers. Book your free ticket for the Future Flying Forum!

The right balance

TAP’s first Airbus A330neo joined the company in 2018. The aircraft holds 34 business seats, 96 economy premium seats, and 168 economy seats. The carrier highlights the plane’s balance of economics, efficiency, and passenger comfort on this twinjet. Overall, it’s the airline’s widebody of choice in the current era.

A330neo Interior - TAP
The first A330-900 delivery was made to TAP on November 26th, 2018. Photo: TAP Air Portugal

The operator highlights the Caribbean’s white-sand shores, year-round sunshine, and crystal clear waters as highlights of the two Latin American destinations. Both locations are vacation favorites for passengers on both sides of the pond.

The Dominican Republic has continued its reputation as a hotspot this year. In April, it was already seeing a return to 2018 levels of traffic. Cancun has also bounced back robustly, recording pre-pandemic passenger levels last month.

TAP is a full-service, hub-and-spoke carrier with several airline partners. So, it’s not only Portuguese travelers that are flying to Cancun and Punta Cana with the airline. Travelers from all across Europe will be connecting with the carrier.

Networks have been shaken up over the last 1.5 years, and carriers have to continue to be agile. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see TAP launching more long-haul routes across the Atlantic in 2022.

What are your thoughts about TAP Air Portugal’s transatlantic expansions? What do you make of the airline’s overall operations? Let us know what you think of these routes and their prospects in the comment section.