Emirates’ new route to Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, has seen a strong influx of traffic, according to Thierry Aucoc, Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Europe and Russian Federation at Emirates.
The airline launched a four times weekly service between Porto and Dubai in July, marking Emirates’ second destination in Portugal after its capital, Lisbon, which it currently serves with two flights a day.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Aucoc said school summer holidays and Eid breaks have played a major role in the influx of travellers to the city.
“We usually see peak travel periods inbound to Europe during the summer which coincides with school summer holidays. Eid breaks have also been a traditionally busy period where demand for travel from the UAE spikes. We have seen a strong influx of traffic into Porto so far this summer as a result. The inbound and outbound booking levels have been very healthy and the rest of the year is promising,” he said.
Aucoc added that the airline expects further growth in bookings to Portugal, with its Lisbon route performing particularly well.
“Load factors to Porto have been very healthy, and we are continuing to grow awareness of our new service within the market, and in key markets for inbound traffic to Portugal. As familiarity with our superior product and service builds, we expect to see continued growth in bookings.
“In addition, our Lisbon route, which started in 2012, has been performing very well and we believe that adding Porto will only strengthen our Portuguese offering,” he said.
However the vice president said there are no immediate plans on making the Porto route a daily one.
“We constantly evaluate new destinations as well as capacity changes on existing routes based on passenger demand, commercial and operational viability, the availability of aircraft in our fleet, the fit with our business strategy and necessary permissions from concerned authorities. At the moment, we are focussed on making Porto a success and have no immediate plans to make this a daily route,” he said.
Aucoc said while Lisbon has so far attracted a mix of leisure and business visitors, Porto has seen mostly tourism-driven visitors. However he said he expects the city to welcome some business traffic thanks to a number of economically promising industries.
“Yes – the customer profile [to Lisbon] is different to that of Porto. Lisbon is a financial, commercial and cultural centre that has continued to attract a healthy mix of leisure and business segments of visitors. Travellers to Porto are mostly tourist driven, however we also expect some business traffic from Porto as well as catchment areas like Galicia. The Porto region is also economically active with several industries based in the region,” he said.
The flight to Porto is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in a three class cabin configuration, offering eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie flat seats in Business Class and 310 seats in Economy Class. It operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.