|Lisbon - Zagreb route to be terminated in late March|
TAP Portugal will suspend services from its hub in Lisbon to the Croatian capital at the end of the 2015/16 winter season. In a short statement to EX-YU Aviation News, the Portuguese carrier said, "From March 27, TAP will no longer have flights to/from Zagreb". Ticket sales for dates thereafter have been suspended. The Portuguese carrier will still offer connections via Zurich, where it will place its flight number and designator code onto Croatia Airlines' service between Zagreb and the Swiss city. As a result, Zagreb will no longer have nonstop flights to Lisbon. The Croatian capital was TAP's only destination in the former Yugoslavia. The airline is maintaining three weekly flights on the route this winter season.
The decision to suspend Zagreb from its network was first announced in June 2015. During the week, TAP announced the renewal of its regional fleet to harmonise with its mainline commercial identity, and a redesign of its products and services through new interiors and an updated digital platform. A new fleet of eight ATR 72 and nine Embraer E190 aircraft, branded TAP Express, will be added to the regional fleet. TAP expects to improve its annual operating results by sixty million euros with these improvements. However, despite the introduction of some new services, TAP will suspend flights to Bogota, Manaus and Panama City, along with Zagreb. In 2015, the Portuguese government approved the sale of its national carrier to the Atlantic Gateway consortium led by David Neeleman (CEO of Brazil’s Azul and founder of JetBlue), who has spearheaded these changes.
TAP has had little success in the former Yugoslavia. In January last year it suspended flights to Belgrade after just five months of operations, citing high seasonality and poor loads during the winter. In 2010, the Portuguese carrier also operated seasonal summer flights from Lisbon to Dubrovnik. Despite the suspension, so far, two new airlines have confirmed their arrival into Zagreb next summer, with Czech Airlines to introduce four weekly flights from Prague on April 27 with a mix of ATR 42 and 72 aircraft and Air Transat, which will launch a one weekly seasonal service from Toronto on June 14 with an Airbus A330-200 jet.