EasyJet has successfully negotiated with the Portuguese government to open a seasonal base at Faro airport for the summer of 2021 creating around 100 direct jobs.
After a year of unprecedented losses, the low-cost airline is plotting its ‘return’ to business. It’s also said to be planning a new base at Malaga airport, Spain.
Both bases will involve the permanent siting of three A320 planes, each capable of carrying up to 156 passengers.
Explain reports, for Portugal this will be easyJet’s third ‘base’.
Portugal and Spain are two of the airline’s most important markets although business during the pandemic has been utterly devastated.
The Luton-based carrier is set to “slump into the red by up to £845 million as it continues to be buffered by the pandemic”, reports the Scotsman today – and it remains in talks to secure a state loan “or some other form of financial aid” to survive.
But for the sake of press releases here in Portugal as well as in Spain, the message is that easyJet means to “take advantage of every opportunity that comes along”.
Said Thomas Haagensen, groups markets director: “Despite the difficult environment that the whole industry is navigating through, this move confirms our commitment to these two popular destinations and will enable us to better serve our customers by optimising our schedule over the summer season as well as making a positive economic contribution to each region”.
Economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira travelled to Faro specifically for the announcement, stressing that people’s “desire to travel is intense” in spite of all the ‘unknowns’ surrounding the pandemic.
His message was that “those who prepare themselves in difficult times to respond better to the recovery are the ones who will benefit the most from reform”.
The minister added that “reinforcing routes into the country is important for Portugal’s capacity for attracting visitors”. This way Easyjet’s decision isn’t simply strategic, it’s “a very important commitment to Portugal”.
The new base – complementing bases in Porto and Lisbon – is due to open in the spring.
For now, however, the ‘devastating consequences’ of the pandemic persist with many countries throughout Europe operating travel restrictions and demanding periods of quarantine for any visitors.