Pilots’ union calls for end to ban on TAP flights to Brazil

  • Lusa
  • 6 April 2021

The Civil Aviation Pilots Union (SPAC) said TAP's ban on flights to Brazil is creating a "situation of clear competitive injustice" in relation to other European airlines.

The Civil Aviation Pilots Union (SPAC) has called on the government to end TAP’s ban on flights to Brazil, which it says is creating a “situation of clear competitive injustice” in relation to other European airlines.

“We appeal to the Portuguese government to correct this situation of clear competitive injustice and economic asphyxia that makes an already catastrophic scenario even worse,” the SPAC said in a letter sent on Monday to the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, to which Lusa news agency had access today.

According to the union, “thousands of passengers” are getting around the ban on flights to Brazil from Portugal – decided by the Government as part of the restrictions resulting from the pandemic – by using hubs in Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich and Frankfurt.

This situation makes “the prophylactic measure of banning flights merely theoretical and with serious prejudice to TAP, which at this time of ‘cashburn’ should be fighting on an equal footing with its counterparts.

“TAP is thus faced with a situation in which its potential passengers are bypassing flights to these markets, of which Brazil is the most important,” while European airlines are thus continuing “to gain market share, which is so important at this time”.

The union argues that “the situation is even more incomprehensible, when it’s the Portuguese consulates in Brazil themselves that give advice to those who need to travel to Portugal, suggesting the use of other airports in Europe, as a gateway”.

“After a quick look at the websites of Iberia, Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss, we found that all are marketing flights to and from Brazil, with Portugal as origin or destination, at prices below cost (São Paulo – Lisbon via Madrid for 285 euros or via Amsterdam for 278 euros)”.

“In this way the economic recovery of our company becomes even more difficult, giving room for our main competitors to gain market share at the expense of the void left by TAP and giving rise to the possibility that, next time, thousands of passengers will not choose TAP because they have already bought tickets with another company.”

On 20 March, the government extended the suspension of flights to the United Kingdom and Brazil until 15 April, and the 14-day prophylactic isolation period now also applies to land borders with high-risk countries.

According to an executive note, only repatriation flights are allowed and citizens arriving in Portugal from Brazil and the United Kingdom, on repatriation flights or via stopovers, as well as from South Africa or countries with an incidence rate equal to or higher than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (such as France or Italy) must not only present proof of a negative test but also comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days.