Advertisement

UK-Portugal flights will be cut next year. Can you travel by train instead?

UK-Portugal flights will be cut next year. Can you travel by train instead?

Hotspot holiday destination Portugal is going to be a little more difficult to get to next year as one airline makes significant flight cuts.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair has announced it is scrapping services to many popular cities in summer 2024 due to ‘increased airport charges’.

It may also stop flying to one much-loved island altogether.

The move will mean flights are likely to go up in price, but there’s good news if you fancy getting to Portugal by train instead.

Ryanair cuts flights to Portugal

Ryanair will reduce its services from the UK to various destinations in Portugal next summer including Faro and Porto.

The number of aircraft based in the archipelago Madeira will be halved, and the budget airline has warned that it may close its base there completely as it has done with Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

Company boss Michael O’Leary criticised the new charges introduced by ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, which manages 10 hubs across the country.

“Unfortunately, we are here to announce cuts, because we have recently been victims of the ANA/Vinci monopoly, which has extraordinarily increased airport charges for next year,” he said.

O’Leary cited this as the reason for closing the Ponta Delgada base this winter.

“If ANA continues with these latest monopoly price increases to 2024, then Ryanair intends to downsize one of its two Madeira-based planes and significantly reduce our schedules to/from Faro and Porto for summer 2024,” he continued.

Portugal airport fees hinder post-COVID tourism recovery

Airport fees across the country are set to increase by an average of 14.6 per cent in 2024, working out to roughly €1.60 per passenger per flight.

“The ANA monopoly should follow the example of other major European airports, especially in Spain, and freeze or reduce fees to help stimulate traffic and tourism recovery in Portugal post-COVID,” O’Leary said.

“Instead, ANA is harming Portugal’s competitiveness with this excessive and unjustified 17 per cent increase in fares, which will crowd out much-needed tourism growth, especially on the islands of Madeira and the Azores.”

How to get to Portugal by train

The reduction in Ryanair’s flight schedule from Britain means fewer seats available and higher prices.

A more sustainable and relaxing alternative to flying to Portugal is to take the train. It is quite a circuitous route at the moment, but there’s plenty of pretty scenery to enjoy and stop-offs in two buzzing capital cities.

The journey involves taking the Eurostar from London to Paris, staying overnight in the French capital and then travelling on to Barcelona by TGV and changing for Madrid.

You stay another night in Madrid, and then take a three-train combo to arrive in Lisbon on day three.

Thankfully, there is news that Spanish rail company Renfe might launch direct services linking Madrid and Lisbon, and the northwest Spanish port city of A Coruña with Porto.

The new high-speed rail line could connect Madrid and Lisbon via Badajoz in six hours by 2027.