Once upon a time, Portugal was a seafaring power, unique among European nations, its ships and sailors ventured far out into the Atlantic well before Columbus set foot in America.
Recent ownership changes Portuguese flag carrier TAP has given this small country on the edge of the European landmass a new opportunity to turn its sights towards the Atlantic.
Following an equity investment, and recapitalization, by renowned aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman, TAP has signed code-share deals with JetBlue (US) and Azul (Brazil), both airlines that were founded by Mr.Neleeman.
What was in the past seen a handicap for TAP, its peripheral position in Europe, has, instead, become a source of strength. TAP is leveraging the geographical location of its Lisbon hub to become a gateway for transatlantic travel. Travelers from the Americas can access 45 European destinations conveniently through Lisbon, while European travelers can access TAP's partners networks on the other side of the ocean.
As part of this strategy, TAP has launched direct flights from Lisbon to Boston and New York City (JFK) with Airbus A330 aircraft.
Well aware of this fact, TAP is launching a global stopover programme, not unlike the one popularized by Icelandair (another nation of seafarers at the edge of the continent!).
TAP tickets between America and Europe will allow passengers to make a stopover of up to three days in Portugal. This will include advantages like free wine at selected restaurants, discounts at partner shops and a free "experience" to explore some aspect of Portuguese history or culture. Passengers making use of the stopover option will also have access to a free dedicated app that will guide them throughout their stay.
A nice way to explore a country that, while often seen, from a European continental perspective, as a bit out-of-the-way, it is, in fact, right in the middle of a global cross-road.