easyJet reinforces position in Portugal

UK carrier easyJet inaugurated its Lisbon base at Portela airport’s Terminal 2 on April 19.

Carolyn McCall, the low cost airline’s Chief Executive Officer, inaugurated easyJet’s 23rd operational base during a ceremony attended by the Minister for Economy and Employment, Álvaro Santos Pereira, the Secretary of State for Tourism, Cecília Meireles, the Secretary of State for Transports , Sérgio Monteiro, and several representatives from the tourism sector in Portugal.

The opening of the new base was the opportunity to announce easyJet’s five new routes – Asturias, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bordeaux and Venice – meaning the airline now connects Lisbon to a total of 21 European destinations.

The new base follows on from an agreement signed with the government in October last year.

Minister Álvaro Santos Pereira said: “According to this agreement, the airline has committed to creating 15 new routes to and from Lisbon during the next five years.  “The newly inaugurated routes alone are expected to generate positive returns, representing €594 million, which demonstrate foreign investors trust Portugal.”

The airline expects to transport around four million passengers to and from Portugal this year, representing 10% of the total market, a figure that is expected to increase in future years with the new Lisbon base.

With all easyJet’s operations now based at Terminal 2, the airline says it will be able to improve on customer service and overall efficiency levels.

Lisbon represents the 23rd base by the airline and its fourth such inauguration in 2012, following London Southend, Nice and Toulouse in March and April.

The airline starts its operation in Lisbon with two Airbus A319 aircraft and 100 employees. In future, it hopes to have seven aircraft stationed at the base and to fly to a further 25 destinations from Lisbon.

Carolyn McCall said: “easyJet has so far transported around 19 million passengers since it began operating in Portugal in 1998. With the new base, we can say we are now totally Portuguese as we have also employed local people who are on Portuguese contracts. “As a long term strategic partner for Portugal, easyJet’s latest investment will no doubt contribute to the country’s local economy.”

Javier Gandara, the airline’s director for Spain and Portugal, said: “During the first year, we hope to increase passenger numbers by 250,000 to two million in Lisbon and four million in Portugal.

“The long term objective is to increase this number by one million passengers a year. The new base reinforces our position as we try to become the airline of choice for Portuguese passengers.”