In an announcement today, TAP Air Portugal has confirmed that it plans to increase operations in September to around 40% of pre-coronavirus levels. The Portuguese national carrier aims to operate 700 round trips per week throughout September, an increase on the 500 round trips it is flying every week in August. However, Portugal is still implementing strict travel restrictions, including fining people who travel without being tested.
TAP Air’s announcement confirms that the airline is looking to step up operations over the coming few months. From August, the airline will operate around 500 round trips per week on a total of 76 routes. The carrier will fly 18 weekly flights to Brazil, 20 to North American destinations, 44 flights to 9 different African destinations, and over 300 flights to 20 European cities. It will also increase its domestic offering to around 126 flights per week.
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The airline then plans to increase its schedule again in September. TAP will operate 22 flights a week to Brazil. It will also offer 30 flights to eight destinations in North America, 59 flights on 13 routes in Africa and the Middle East, 498 flights to 35 European cities, and 159 flights between six cities in Portugal.
Liable to change
If the airline does manage this schedule increase, it will be operating at around 40% of its pre-coronavirus level. However, the airline is aware that the situation may change. In the statement on its website, it said,
“The list of routes and flights may be adjusted whenever circumstances require, in view of the dynamics of the evolution of taxes and restrictions in the various countries, due to the evolution of the pandemic, as well as the evolution of demand.”
TAP is also making it easier for passengers to deal with the ever-changing situation. The airline has waived its fee for changing a booking. For any flight between July 1st and October 31st, passengers can change their reservations free of charge. This allows people to travel from countries with changing rules regarding quarantining can delay a flight until June 30th, 2021, if it is more suitable.
Keeping people safe onboard
Like many airlines, TAP is using a health and safety initiative to inspire passenger’s confidence when traveling. TAP’s Clean & Safe regulations mean anyone over the age of six traveling on a flight must wear a facemask of covering for the entire duration of the trip.
The airline is also trying to discourage people from using lavatories on planes and to remain in their seats if possible. The airline has suspended food and drinks on some short-haul flights. Any food served on longer routes will be individually packaged and sealed.
TAP Air’s health and safety measures may encourage more people to fly over the coming months. However, Portugal has announced that anyone arriving in Portugal must now have a negative test result before boarding the plane.
The test must be taken within 72 hours of flying. The increase in demand as border reopen has out stress on testing facilities, and getting results in time is not always possible. This restricts the number of people able to board a flight to Portugal safely.
If other countries also implement similar testing rules, TAP may not see a big enough increase in demand to justify its new schedule. Do you think TAP is being realistic or too hopeful? Can airlines start to think about recovery now, or is it too soon? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.