British Airways this week announced it has reinstated its flights between London Gatwick and the Portuguese island of Madeira several years after it suspended the route.
The British flag-carrier is currently operating three flights a week between London and Funchal, which will increase to five from June and drop again to four during winter.
A statement from national airport management company ANA – Airports of Portugal forcast that the flights will create more than 30,000 seats on the route during summer, and 25,000 during winter.
“These numbers show the airline’s recognition of the viability and importance of this route”, ANA said, stressing that the British market is the second biggest supplier of passengers to the autonomous region.
ANA further said that the operations have the support of the National Tourism Board, the Madeira regional tourism board, and ANA.
To mark the restart of the route, a ceremony was held in Madeira on Monday to receive the inaugural flight, which counted on the presence of the Regional Secretary for Economy, Tourism and Culture, Eduardo Jesus.
Speaking at the ceremony the governor recalled that, “with around 470,399 passengers, the British market took, in 2014, second place on the ranking of passengers to Madeira Airport, with a quota of around 19 percent and a growth of 6.6 percent in comparison to the year before.”
Eduardo Jesus also said that in the first year of operation, the perspective is that British Airways will carry around 42,000 passengers between London and Madeira, pointing out that it amounts to 127,000 places by winter 2017.
The Regional Secretary further said that the 10-day strike by TAP pilots which ended on Sunday had had “the worst possible results” and had damaged the image of Madeira as a tourist destination, affecting about 8,000 passengers.
On its website, British Airways suggests: “Fly direct from London Gatwick (LGW) to Madeira Airport (FNC) and you will be enjoying the wonderful year-round Madeira weather in just under four hours. With three flights a week, increasing to five from July 2015, it couldn’t be easier to fly to this beautiful destination.”