TAP Air Portugal’s regional subsidiary, TAP Express (formerly Portugalia Airlines), is close to placing an order for new aircraft. Embraer’s new E195-E2 jet and Airbus A220-300 are the company’s preferred models to replace its first-generation E190 and E195 models.
TAP Express plans to start fleet renewal from 2021 and the process should be completed by 2023 at the latest. The Portuguese company currently has 13 Embraer jets (nine E190 and four E195) and nine ATR 72- 600.
“Our goal is modernization, mainly due to problems with fuel consumption. There are also restrictions in Lisbon. Currently, aircraft (in the TAP Express fleet) have an average of 110 seats and we need to enter the 130-140 class. If you look at the options, we basically have the E195-E2 or the A220-300. It’s a two horse race,” TAP Express CEO Valter Fernandes told CH-Aviation.
All Embraer aircraft currently in service with TAP Express belonged to Azul Linhas Aereas. The aircraft were passed on to the Portuguese company from 2016.
TAP today has an intimate relationship with Azul, which has just received the world’s first E195-E2. David Neeleman, founder of the Brazilian company, is the current controller of the Portuguese company, holding 45% of its capital.
Neeleman is also the founder of JetBlue Airways, which operates in the United States. In June this year, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to purchase up to 60 A220-300 jets. The airline wants to replace its first-generation E190 from 2020 to 2025.
In addition, TAP has been one of Airbus’ most traditional customers, currently operating the largest A330-900neo fleet in the world and being a major customer of the A321neo LR.