Hoteliers and mayors in the Algarve are demanding compensation for the new strategy of national airline TAP – which means no international flights actually connect with the country’s main touristic region.
The apparent lunacy of the decision has seen the south “demand more touristic promotion and a high speed rail link” with the capital, reports SIC television news.
As Elidérico Viegas, president of hoteliers association AHETA, explains, “it makes no sense that someone travelling from London to Faro has to take two flights (one to Lisbon and then a connecting flight to Faro), involving hours more being added to their journeys.
The same applies to tourists from all the major European countries that tend to choose the Algarve for their holidays.
Basically, anyone choosing TAP from overseas in future will find they cannot fly direct to the Algarve.
And the issue is much more wide-reaching, bearing in mind the airline is about to be injected with billions of taxpayers’ money.
Why are the citizens of the Algarve faced with paying for an airline that does nothing to service or promote the region, quizzes Elidérico Viegas.
“The thousands of millions in damages that TAP has accumulated over the years were not generated in the Algarve, but it is Algarvians that are now being called upon to pay for these damages. In this perspective, it makes sense that the government should consider financial supports for the region to encourage other airlines to service the Algarve”.
Indeed, the municipality of Porto has said the same, setting €100 million as the figure it would like to see in financial compensation
The Algarve hasn’t been quite so ‘direct’ – but António Pina, president of AMAL (the association of Algarve municipalities) stresses the government cannot go on “always, always, favouring Lisbon”.
The Algarve needs a high-speed rail link (connecting to Lisbon and Seville) to compensate for this constant blanking by the national airline, he told SIC television news, as well as more money to go towards promotional packages to attract new visitors.