easyJet Expands in Portugal with New Porto Base

After opening its first base in Portugal at Lisbon Portela Airport in 2012, easyJet has announced it will now station two Airbus A320s at Francisco de Sá Carneiro airport in Porto from spring 2015 offering enhanced connections across Europe. Although its network plans have not been revealed the low-fare carrier will significantly expand on its current six destination network from the airport.

The airline first made its entry into Portugal in 1999 and launched flights from Porto in 2007. It currently offers regular flights from Porto to Basel, Geneva, London Gatwick, Lyon, Paris CDG and Toulouse and carried almost 800,000 passengers across this network in the year between July 2013 and the end of June 2014.

“We are delighted to announce a second Portuguese base from Spring 2015 which will connect the North of Portugal with Europe. This represents a key growth factor for the local economy with the creation of more choice for business and leisure travellers alike at affordable prices and a high standard of service,” said Javier Gandara, country director of Portugal & Spain, easyJet.

easyJet is the third largest carrier in Portugal where alongside Lisbon and Porto it serves Faro and Funchal. It carried almost four million passengers to/from Portugal between July 2013 and the end of June 2014 and this year operates a network that covers 42 routes from the country. Its activities were expanded in 2012 when it stationed four A319s at its new Lisbon base.

“Oporto airport continues to be a key tool for the city and investments like easyJet’s demonstrate that there is space to grow. For Oporto, the installation of a base of a prestigious airline such as easyJet is also proof that the tourism and economic dynamics of the city are not just a trend, but that we are already a consolidated tourism destination where investment continues to make sense,” said Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto.

Alongside its leisure demand, Porto will also be a strong pull for business travellers, meeting easyJet’s development strategy to grow its share of business passengers with higher frequency services to major city destinations.

Located along the Douro River estuary in Northern Portugal with its Mediterranean climate Porto has an immense architectural heritage as one of the oldest European centres and has been registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1996 and was the European Culture Capital in 2001.

The region is economically very dynamic with the second largest national metropolitan city with a population of more than two million people, hosting numerous major corporations, newspapers and publishing companies which are headquartered in the heavily industrialised northwest of the country as well as the region of production of Portugal’s internationally famous export Port wine and other agricultural products.

In our analysis, below, we highlight easyJet’s growth in Portugal over the past ten years. According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, the carrier’s available seat capacity from Portugal has grown from just 325,000 annual seats in 2004 to over 2.2 million in 2013 with the largest growth between 2006 and 2008 when the carrier expanded its network from the country. The airline is now the third largest operator from Portugal (based on 2013 schedules) with an 11.5 per cent capacity share and the third largest operator from Porto with a 10.9 per cent seat share, behind Ryanair and TAP Portugal.

Data provided by OAG

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…