TAP Air Portugal Launches New EconomyXtra Offering

TAP Air Portugal has announced its launching of a new economy class seat. EconomyXtra, sold on TAP’s principal Airbus fleet, will cost more than standard economy but less than business class.

TAP jet on taxiway
TAP launches its new EconomyXtra, a step up from basic economy. Photo: TAP

The Portuguese flag carrier and Star Alliance member unveiled the new class in a press release (15/10/19). EconomyXtra will be available to purchase for journeys aboard the A319, A320, A321, A321LR and A330.

TAP’s medium-haul customers can now choose one of three options for travel: Executive, EconomyXtra and Economic. Customers with Classic or Plus rates and Miles & Go Gold and Navigator TAP Customers are automatically upgraded.

Writes TAP, “Customers traveling on Basic or Discount fares can purchase all benefits of the EconomyXtra product at the time of booking or at a later time.”

According to the airline, the advantages of flying EconomyXtra include:

  • Extra legroom
  • Front row with seat reservation
  • Reclining and more spacious chair
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Electric and USB plug in place
  • Tablet Support
  • “Improved” meals

We have contacted TAP for more information but have not yet received a reply.

TAP investment

TAP continues to invest in a modern all-Airbus fleet. In May of this year, the carrier received its 100th aircraft from the European manufacturer. By the end of 2019, predicts ATW, the carrier will have received 37 new aircraft including 14 A330-900s of which TAP was the launch customer.

The airline hopes to see its number of orders rise to 71 by 2025.

The massive investment ($900 million to date) is expected to boost TAP’s market share and transform Lisbon Portela into the go-to transit point for travelers between Europe and the United States. The airline recently opened routes between Lisbon, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

TAP jet on taxiway
TAP’s investment opportunities continue to fall butter-side up. Photo: TAP

Intentions firm

The expansion of its network has been ongoing since TAP’s privatization in 2015. Delivery of brand-new rolling stock was seen as vital to the survival and success of the airline and its position as a market leader.

In the wake of the country’s three-year $116 billion bailout by the EU and IMF, the success of flagship companies was seen as important on the road to recovery. Hence, TAP’s post-privatization renewal has been ambitious and worthwhile. Growth: steady and encouraging year on year.

According to the airline’s press release of October 8th, “From January to September 2019, the airline carried almost 13 million passengers – 12.9 million – an increase of 868 thousand, or 7.2 percent, compared to the same period of 2018.

Furthermore, this year TAP brings 30 new aircraft into service, the largest influx in the airline’s history, according to Airways.

TAP’s launching of the new class is thus not a coincidence. The introduction of the new premium economy class is without doubt intended to add to the booty. Urging customers to pay a little more to avoid low-end service is an age-old ploy of airlines to boost profit per flight.

Coach class

Over the past few years, an ever-increasing number of airlines have chosen to divide their coach class cabins into smaller blocks of differentiated service. At one end: the no-frills nothingness of basic economy. At the other: premium economy; more expensive but with more inclusive amenities.

TAP jet interior
Coach class division is becoming big business. Photo: TAP

In between, on some carriers, various choices of perk inveigling customers to pay just a little more for each prerequisite they choose for the flight: more legroom, wider seats, aisle seats, window seats, priority boarding and disembarkation, etc.

Of TAP the options for flight extras are fewer, but the introduction of EconomyXtra follows the same tactic. Lowly coach passengers make up a huge percentage of traffic yet do not yield the same revenue as those who buy into premium-class seats. Thus, if there is a method to increase the yield at the bottom end the airline will use it.

That is one of the reasons carriers like TAP have directed their attention to the division of the economy cabin. While demand for economy travel is on the up airlines will cash in where they can.