Portimão-Bragança air link delayed as management contract to be signed this week

Transport Minister Sérgio Monteiro has admitted he does not know when the air link connecting Portimão to Bragança in the north of Portugal – due to have started running this summer – will be launched. He confirmed, however, that Portimão charter company Aero Vip will be in charge of the route and that the management contract will be signed this week.

Speaking to journalists in Lisbon on Friday (September 25), Monteiro said the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) is getting all the paperwork in order so that officials can finally put pen to paper and seal the deal.

Originally, the plan was to have the route up and running this summer, but the minister says that the air link will now have to wait for the thumbs up from the Court of Auditors. When that will happen is still anyone’s guess.

“The Court of Auditors has its own deadlines. We’re not putting any kind of pressure,” the minister said.

As announced in June, Aero Vip was the only bidder for the air link, which was suspended in 2012 when the EU decided it was no longer economically viable due to improved road conditions.

It will boast two daily flights during the summer and one during the winter, every day except Sundays.

Tickets for the route, which includes stops in Cascais, Viseu and Vila Real, will vary between €32 and €148 – depending on where you stop.

According to the Portuguese government, the resurrection of the air link plans to “stimulate mobility and the economic activity in the northern and southern regions of the country, providing better and faster access between different spots of the territory”.

Back in 2012, the route operated for a little over €2.5 million per year for 15 years. The idea was that the more passengers carried on flights, the less money the state paid operators. However, the service rarely broke even.

But the government decided to bring the route back to life, saying it is “a question of public interest”.

Around €7.8 million will be ploughed into the service in a three-year subsidy plan very similar to the initial one.

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