Portugal’s national flag-carrier, TAP, carried 27.5 percent more passengers in January than in the same month last year, 960,384 in total - a new monthly record - the company announced.
The airline’s load factor in the month was 78.8 percent, up 6.6 points on a year earlier, it said.
“Contributing to these results is the good performance of flights to the US, which enabled TAP in January to achieve a 222 percent increase in traffic volume in all routes operated in that country, with an occupancy rate of these flights in the order of 86 percent,” the company said in a statement.
In the domestic sector - mainland Portugal, Azores and Madeira - the company said, it in January it enjoyed “very significant increases in traffic, corresponding to 74 percent growth from the same month of 2016, with the Lisbon-Porto link standing out for the 115 percent increase in the number of passengers carried, as well as for a 3.9-percentage-point increase in the occupancy rate of the flights.”
TAP also highlighted links with Africa, with the Morocco routes leading the way with a tripling of passenger numbers.
In related news, TAP said on Wednesday that it approved of the idea to have a secondary Lisbon airport at Montijo to increase capacity at the Portuguese capital, but that transferring part of its operations to the south bank of the Tagus was “out of the question”.
TAP spokesman, André Soares, said that the airline was the only one that used Lisbon as a hub to transfer passengers from one flight to another.
“We bring in passengers from America and Africa to Europe, they fly into Lisbon and then catch other flights to European destinations, 60 percent of our traffic is this kind of passenger”, he said.
Soares also said that operations at Lisbon were becoming “harder and harder” because of “various limitations and because the airport was working close to maximum capacity”.
Montijo is a military base on the south bank of the Tagus and so would be much cheaper than building a new airport from scratch.
In separate news, Tagus ferry company Transtejo is considering changing its services between Lisbon and the south bank because of the possibility of Montijo air base being changed into a commercial airport.
Prime minister António Costa said last Wednesday that a final decision about the location of the future airport in Montijo depended on a report about bird migration in that area, namely migration safety.
Transtejo operates ferries between the north and south bank of the Tagus and has a total of nine terminals.
António Costa said last week that there was an agreement with the airport manager ANA [Aeroportos de Portugal] to study the possibility of using Montijo as a secondary airport, but the question of bird migrations was still in question.