TAP launches low-cost daily flights between Lisbon and Porto

Low-cost airline Ryanair could be ruing the day last year that it ‘declared war on TAP’ as the airline has announced the first phase of its plan to launch aggressively competitive flights.

Starting with 16 daily flights between Lisbon and Porto, TAP vows its €39 price-tag will compete with anything else on the market – very possibly even passengers’ own cars.

The service will take to the skies in March, involving 114 weekly flights.

Meantime, TAP boss Fernando Pinto has announced that Portugália airlines is now being re-christened TAP Express, and from June onwards will have a “completely renovated fleet”.

TAP’s new ‘majority shareholders’, airline boss David Neeleman and transport mogul Humberto Pedrosa, have pledged a €400 million cash injection to buy up eight new ATR 72s and nine Embraer 154s.

“These planes are 76% more efficient than the current fleet, with a gain per seat of 67%,” said Pinto. “We will be more efficient, more aggressive and more competitive.”

At the same time as TAP is announcing changes, talks to change the terms of its privatisation deal in the last days of the outgoing centre-right coalition government are ‘moving along nicely’.

Humberto Pedrosa has told journalists that negotiations to increase the State’s control of the company will “probably” conclude by the end of the month.

António Costa’s PS government came to power vowing to reverse the privatisation and leave Portugal with a 51% shareholding.

Talking yesterday, Pedrosa said the government has yet to produce a concrete proposal to guarantee a majority position, but there are “various options” on the table.

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