How do you see the talks on opening direct Portugal-China air routes?
The time is right to start a direct route to China. We are working on it, but it is a huge investment. Our government has to establish clear rules ahead. I’m not going to start a Chinese route and then see a government-owned airline start up with a lower price.
What are EuroAtlantic’s competitive advantages?
As a small private company, we have the advantage of flexibility. We changed our business model to focus on long-haul flights, a segment not properly developed in Portugal. We have licenses to operate all over the world. Now 99% of our business is outside Portugal, in 164 countries.
How do you see your expansion in Africa?
Ten years ago we started to make plans with partners in Angola and other African countries. We started STP Airways seven years ago in São Tomé. This business should grow fast. TAP is increasing to three flights a week to São Tome, via Accra, but we are the only carrier with direct flights.
Do you see opportunities for Chinese investment in aviation?
The Chinese should move quicker to get partners in Europe. Europe can be the gateway to Africa, South America and the North Atlantic. Because we are financially healthy, flexible and experienced, we are a good potential partner for a Chinese airline. I would like to invite Chinese partners to explore cooperation opportunities. It would be a great marriage, combining Chinese capital and ideas with our experience.
What message do you have for Chinese readers of this newspaper?
If I can’t open a direct route to China, they should start operating from Portugal. I would help as a partner and facilitator. I can do a lot for them. Come to Portugal and let’s develop new businesses together!