• TAP Air Portugal, founded in 1945, entered the jet age in 1962 and has a fleet of 106 aircraft, including Airbus and Boeing models.
  • Portugália Airlines, founded in 1988, became a subsidiary of TAP Air Portugal in 2006 and was rebranded as TAP Express in 2016.
  • TAP Air Portugal acquired Portugália Airlines to consolidate its position in the regional market and retired Portugália Airlines' old aircraft in favor of new ones.

Before we answer the question of why TAP Air Portugal acquired Portugália Airlines, let's first look at the two airlines' history and discover how they became intertwined.

Founded as a state-owned airline in 1945, Transportes Aéreos Portugueses began operations the following year with a pair of Douglas DC-3s. The airline's inaugural flight was between Lisbon and Madrid, but it soon expanded to flying to Portuguese African colonies. Reaching Loanda, Angola, and then Lourenço Marques, Mozambique, as they were known, took 15 days and required 12 stops to refuel.

TAP Air Portugal entered the jet age in 1962

During the 1950s, the airline was privatized and broke new ground in 1955, flying a Lockheed Super Constellation transatlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1962, TAP entered the jet age after taking delivery of three French-built Sud Aviation Caravelles. Two years later, in 1964, it received its first Boeing 707 and immediately used it for flights between Portugal and Brazil.

Following a military coup in 1974, TAP was taken over by the government and remained a state-owned airline until being sold to a consortium headed by David Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa in 2015.

About Portugália Airlines

Founded as a joint stock company in 1988, Portugália Airlines began operations in the summer of 1990. Its first flights were between Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) and Porto Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) in the north and Faro International Airport (FAO) in the Algarve.

The airline began life using. Dutch Fokker 100 jets and then acquired eight Brazilian-built Embraer 145 regional jets. Concentrating on the Portuguese domestic market, Portugália Airlines first expanded, offering flights from Portugal to Spain, Morocco, France, Germany, and Italy.

During the early 2000s, Skytrax voted Portugália Airlines the best Cabin Staff in Europe and the best overall European regional airline.

TAP Air Portugal buys Portugália Airlines

By the mid-2000s, it was becoming evident to TAP Air Portugal that Portugália Airlines was winning the regional market, and it decided that the best thing to do rather than compete was to bring Portugália Airlines into the TAP Air Portugal family.

In November 2006, Portugalia owners Grupo Espirito Santo announced that the airline had been sold to TAP Air Portugal. Portugália Airlines continued operations as a subsidiary of TAP Portugal until 2016, when it was rebranded as TAP Express. On the same day as the rebranding, TAP Air Portugal announced that it was retiring Portugália Airlines' Fokker 100s and Embraer 145s and replacing them with new Embraer E190s and ATR-72-600s.

rTAP Air Portugal Airbus A321-200LR
Photo: Airbus

When TAP Air Portugal was restructured in 2022 following the COVID-19 pandemic, TAP Express was fully integrated into TAP Air Portugal as a cost-saving measure. Today, according to the aviation statistics and date website ch-aviation, the Portuguese national flag carrier operates a fleet of 106 aircraft made up of the following planes:

  • 5 x Airbus A319-100s
  • 18 x Airbus A320-200s
  • 11 x Airbus A320-200neos
  • 3 x Airbus A321-200s
  • 6 x Airbus A321-200neos
  • 5 x Airbus A321-200neox
  • 12 x Airbus A321-200neoxLRs
  • 3 x Airbus A330-200s
  • 1 x Airbus A330-300
  • 19 x Airbus A330-900neos
  • 1 x Boeing 767-300ER
  • 2 x ATR-72-600s
  • 5 x Embraer E190-100ARs
  • 9 x Embraer E190-100LRs
  • 4 x Embraer E190-200ARs
  • 3 x Embraer E190-200LRs