Portugal in talks with airlines to increase UK flights

Portuguese Tourism Minister Nuno Fazenda
By Harry Kemble
16/06/2023
Home » Portugal in talks with airlines to increase UK flights

Portugal is in discussions with low-cost carriers about increasing the number of year-round flights from Northern Ireland and possibly Scotland.

The country’s Tourism Minister Nuno Fazenda confirmed there would be 906 flights a week between 19 UK airports to Portugal next month.

However, tourism chiefs want to improve air connectivity with the UK outside the summer months after Portugal recorded its best-ever first quarter in terms of visitor numbers this year.

Travel Gossip understands Portugal is in talks with several airlines, including Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2, about offering more flights to Porto and Lisbon from Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Currently, travellers from Northern Ireland must travel to Dublin to fly to the two Portuguese cities.

Flights from Glasgow to Porto and Lisbon began earlier this month, but tourism chiefs will wait and see how the market reacts to the new services before pushing for more flights between Portugal and Scotland.

Mr Fazenda said: “Air connectivity with the UK is very strong, but we want more flights in other parts of the year.

“We’re talking with all airlines about increasing the number of flights in the middle and low seasons. We want demand all the way through the year.

“We have capacity to fill, and we have more activities and experiences to offer visitors. We’re creating more products and experiences all the time.”

He highlighted growing demand from British tourists for gastronomic and wine experiences in the Douro valley.

“Wine tourism is one of the main motivations for the British,” he said.

The UK was the top market for overnight stays last year, with 8,996,474.

And the booming visitors numbers have continued into this year with 14.1% more British travellers flying to the country in March, against the same month last year.

Confirming Britain is Portugal’s number one source market, Mr Fazenda said: “The British are great. The first quarter this year was Portugal’s best-ever first quarter in terms of overall tourism numbers and Britons.”

He added that Brits were visiting areas outside the traditionally popular hotspots in the Algarve and Lisbon.

“They’re going to other parts of the country like Porto and the north and Alentejo region, south-east of Lisbon,” Mr Fazenda said.

In March this year, British overnight stays in Porto and the north of the country were up 29.2% and 26.9% in Alentejo, versus the same month in 2022.

But Mr Fazenda said the Algarve remains the most popular tourism destination for Brits, with 60% of visitors choosing the region over other areas of Portugal.

“The UK is a very important market for tourists in Portugal,” he said. “The UK market has the largest volume of travellers to Portugal; they travel all through the year and across the whole country.”

Pictured: Alentejo in Portugal, with Portuguese Tourism Minister Nuno Fazenda (left)

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