The Lisbon-Beijing route, through Xi’an, will start “soon“, predictably “in February or March“, through codeshare, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the TAP Group announced today.
In a meeting promoted by the Association of Portuguese Hospitality (AHP) in Lisbon, the chairman recalled the recent end of the connection between the Portuguese and Chinese capitals, which could alter the “favourable evolution” of Chinese tourists until October in Portugal.
After contextualizing that Chinese tourists lead the list of those who spend the most in Portugal, the official reported on the resumption of the connection between Portugal and China, but this time with a scale in Xi’an and code-share sale of tickets between airlines) by TAP in a Beijing Capital Airlines operation.
The official indicated that TAP, in this case, is a “passive partner” and that the information the company received is that the “previous configuration [direct flight between Lisbon and Beijing] would not be profitable.”
In October, the Foreign Minister in southern China said he hoped Chinese airline Capital Airlines would resume the flight between Beijing and Lisbon, suspended that month, admitting it would join other routes.
“I hope that the difficulties will pass and that the air connection can be resumed,” told Augusto Santos Silva.
Capital Airlines suspended the direct flight between Hangzhou, on the east coast of China, and Lisbon, stopping in Beijing on July 26, 2017, with three flights per week.
The company is one of the subsidiaries of the Chinese group HNA, which faces a serious liquidity crisis, after closing last year with a debt of 598 billion yuan (about 77 billion euros at current exchange rate).
Capital Airlines refused to detail the reasons for the suspension, referring only “operational reasons“.
Santos Silva recalled that there is a “real need” for the connection, referring to the average occupancy rate above 80%.
“It is proof that there is demand and that the flight responds to a real need,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of another connection, after Capital Airlines asked permission from China’s authorities to start a direct flight between Xi’an, northwest China and Lisbon, Santos Silva was in favour, but stressed that connection to the Chinese capital is “very important“.
“We have no objection, of course, to the fact that there are other air links, and the more so, but the Beijing-Lisbon connection is very important, and those were the terms of the initiative that resulted in the launch of the flight,” he recalled.
In 2017, the number of Chinese who visited Portugal grew 40.7%, to 256,735. In the same period, the Chinese tourists spent, in total, 130 million euros.