What I personally find confusing is that the Algarve has a high percentage of high income permanent or part time residents. They own multi million Euro properties, but still use the likes of Ryanair.

Back in the day several airlines offered direct London to Faro flights with a business class option. It would be reasonable to assume that high income individuals, given that they don’t own a private jet (and many do) would prefer to fly in comfort rather than with their knees under their chin in economy class.

British Airways will still offer you business class from Heathrow, but at a cost approaching £1,000, it’s not cheap. But as Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary frequently points out, you get what you pay for. For a handful of loose change, he will fly you to Faro low season, probably on time but with little or no comfort.

If your only consideration is getting here fast and cheap, the low-cost airlines are here to stay and happy to sell you a seat. That seat might increase to €200 or even €300 in the busy season, but it’s the same seat and the same service.

Could the low costs offer more?

Of course, it’s always possible that companies like Ryanair, easyJet etc would start to offer an enhanced service at the front of the aircraft, given that there was any demand. It only means leaving the centre seat free and hanging a curtain between those seats and economy. At a guess they could easily ask three or four times the standard fare, and only need to offer wine and a meal tray. If there was a demand, be sure they would take this seriously. If you agree, why not write to them and request such a service.

Take longer, save the planet

The critical question is, are more eco friendly and comfortable methods of travel under development, and would you be happy to take a day or two to travel to Portugal. From the reader response we have had, I believe the answer is yes.

However, many questions have been raised which deserve an answer. The first, and by far the most important, is to do with high-speed train rails and compatibility between countries. What most people don’t realise is the EU, never famous for forward vision, have in fact been working on this for years. Since 2000, the EU has been investing €23.7 billion into high-speed rail infrastructure. France and Spain have the most advanced high-speed networks, Spain received 47.3 percent of the total EU funding for high speed development, and they have used it very effectively. (2018 EU report). Portugal at that time had received 3.9 percent of the funding budget, but the EU are now funding the Lisbon Madrid link which is expected to come into service late next year.

Seville Faro link – don’t hold your breath

The suggestion of a high-speed link between Seville and Faro, is, at best, many years away, if it’s practical. There exists a working rail link between Seville and Huelva. There is also an unused link from Huelva to Ayamonte, but the rails have been taken up years ago. Then there is the minor problem of getting across the river, the existing bridge was not constructed with the possibility of adding rails in the future. Maybe a great idea but massively expensive.

In 2007, a consortium of European Railway operators, Railteam, emerged to co-ordinate and boost cross-border high-speed rail travel. Developing a Trans-European high-speed rail network is a stated goal of the European Union, and most cross-border railway lines receive EU funding. Several countries — France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom — are connected to a cross-border high-speed railway network.

France has the second largest high-speed network in Europe, with 2,800 km of operative HSR lines in June 2021, only behind Spain's 3,402 km. London, France and Spain are now fully interconnected with a high speed rail network. The reality of very fast train travel is already available as far as Madrid or onwards to Southern Spain. It’s much more than a plan, its already working. Madrid Lisbon is not far behind.

Sleeper trains

High quality sleeper services are being launched very rapidly, check out Midnight Trains. The question is that if you could soon travel in comfort, overnight to Portugal, probably in little over 24 hours, how attractive would that alternative be.

Readers have also asked if we think the new high-speed trains will carry cars. I think that has to be a big no; Eurostar do have car carriages but over long distance at high speed this does not sound practical.

That leaves us with the third alternative, a car ferry to Lisbon, something many readers have ask about. If you are thinking eco, so to speak, there are not much CO2 savings to be made, car ferries are better than air travel, but a long way from being kind to the environment. It’s also obvious that the ferry companies that serve northern Spain seem to have little, if any, interest, or enthusiasm to extend their service to Lisbon. If you think they should, write to them. If there is a demand they may well look more seriously at this option. Pressure from consumers can work.

For the environmentally conscious readers, here is a quick guide to the four cleanest ways to travel:

Bicycle. 0g CO2 per km (not a practical as a way to travel to Portugal).

100% Electric Car. 12g CO2 per km.

International Rail 15.1g CO2 per km.

Ferry 19.3g CO2 per km.