TAP launches new routes to America and Brazil

TAP has announced new routes in January consolidating the company’s commitment to expanding its network of transatlantic destinations.

Starting in January, and using ‘climate friendly’ new Airbuses (A321LR), the airline will open links between Lisbon and Maceió in Brazil (three flights per week), Montreal in Canada (six flights a week) and run a new Azores route between Ponta Delgada and Boston, in the United States, five times a week.

Use of these new planes – said to cut down on climate-impacting emissions by 15-18% – will also allow TAP to increase the number of flights from three per week to five on their Natal and Belém routes into Lisbon, said the company in a statement.

This takes flights linking Portugal and Brazil to 92 per week – “15 more than in 2015” when the flagship carrier began its ‘transformation’ under management of the Atlantic Gateway Consortium.

As for the new routes in and out of Canada and Boston, the airline says they show TAP is fulfilling “one of its strategic paths” set out in 2015: the conquest of the North Atlantic”.

Next year will see the airline running 82 weekly flights in and out of the US – “a significant increase on offers in 2015” when TAP was only running 16 weekly flights.

And concluding the ‘good news’, the airline added that internal routes between Lisbon and Ponta Delgada will increase from four per week to five.

The update came just a day after CEO Antonaldo Neves presented 111 million euros in losses for the airline for the first nine months of this year.

The figure is however balanced by the company statement that it reflects “exchange rate variations that have no impact on the treasury”.

Excluding these exchange rate variations, the group’s consolidated net income for the third quarter of the year was 61 million euros, “offsetting by 50% the loss generated in the first half of 2019”.

With passenger numbers up and plans to recruit 800 more staff (100 of which will be pilots), the airline is clearly ‘reaching for the sky’, despite ratings agencies continuing to peg its investment grade at fairly dismal levels.

Standard & Poor’s has TAP at a BB- (described as ‘the third level of rubbish’) though with outlook ‘stable’. Moody’s meantime has been less positive, giving TAP just B2, which is ‘level five of speculative investment’ – again however with the outlook ‘stable’.

What this means, in black and white, is that in Moody’s perspective there remains “the strong likelihood of State intervention in case of need”.

TAP meantime is keenly pursuing international investors with a €300 million bond flotation.

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