Airline TAP Portugal has launched its inaugural flight from Manchester to Lisbon. The airline will run six non-stop flights a week offering full services in business and economy class.
There have been 15,000 flights booked for the service in the coming months. The first flight on Wednesday was 75% full and included customers travelling to Madeira, Porto, the Azores, Rio de Janeiro, Natal and Recife.
"The addition of Manchester as TAP's new destination in Northwest England is an important step towards the increased size of the company's European network, due to be completed during June 2011, with six new destinations entering the operation in Europe alone", said Carlos Paneiro, vice president of sales for TAP Portugal. "The United Kingdom is the number one market for Portugal in terms of inbound tourism. Thus, the launch of direct operations between Manchester and Lisbon is very relevant to us as an airline, as Manchester is an important economic and industrial city in the UK, served by an efficient airport with a strong presence of major network carriers and able to accommodate air traffic expansion in the future."
Andrew Harrison, Manchester Airport's managing director, said: "Having TAP Portugal announce a route to Lisbon from Manchester will not only give passengers access to Portugal's capital city but TAP are also one of the largest carriers of passengers to South America from Europe and that opens even more destinations to our customer base in the North West. This adds another large European capital to our route network and we know it'll prove popular with passengers from Manchester."
Angie Robinson, chief executive of Midas, Manchester's inward investment agency, said: "TAP Portugal's new route is a fantastic addition to the Manchester Airport route network. It's extremely important to Manchester – in terms of projects, Europe currently generates the most Foreign Direct Investment for the region. The business class flights from Lisbon will offer a great opportunity to develop links with Portugal."