"Despite the capacity this winter being 80 percent, compared to 2019, we have maintained the same level of flights, in other words, Madeira is a special destination", said Christine Ourmières-Widener, who added that there will be changes in the level of ticket prices, which currently exceed €1,000.
“Prices are actually higher [at this time] because demand has been increasing,” she said, in response to questions from PSD and PS deputies, also revealing that she had received letters from Madeiran citizens with complaints.
The chairman of TAP's executive committee, who gave statements using a translator, said repeatedly that the pricing policy results from the law of supply and demand.
“This measure has no solution, because we cannot influence the market”, she declared, stressing that her obligation is to manage and transform TAP into a sustainable company.
However, she considered that the increase in the capacity of flights to Madeira will lead to a reduction in prices.
“In the next few days there will be news about this”, she guaranteed.
Christine Ourmières-Widener indicated, on the other hand, in response to questions from PCP and JPP deputies, that the high airport fees charged at Madeira International Airport have a “significant weight” in the definition of air fares.
The chairman of TAP's executive committee also said that Madeira is not one of the most profitable routes for the company, contrary to what deputies from the PSD and the Communist Party said.
“It is information that I cannot convey for market reasons. It is sensitive information”, said Christine Ourmières-Widener, adding: “If you are wondering if Madeira will be one of the most profitable routes for TAP, maybe not.”
The Social Democrat Jaime Filipe Ramos insisted, however, on the fact that the route was the most profitable per mile, concluding that TAP “abuses” Madeirans and their position in the market.
“Today, TAP is an economic barrier to Madeirans due to its aggressive strategy,” he declared.
Ryanair entering the market
Christine Ourmières-Widener reacted to the indication that Ryanair is preparing to enter into the market for the connection between Madeira and the mainland, stating that TAP will “react accordingly”.
“It is true that the appearance of a competitor on the routes where the company is present is never good news, especially in the case of Ryanair, which, as is known, has not been particularly friendly with TAP,” she said.
She added: “We are aware that Ryanair will come with all its strength and we will react with the weapons we have at our fingertips, but it is important, by the way, to say that, if it is true that when Ryanair enters a certain market, it does so with pomp and circumstance, it is also true that when you go out, pomp and circumstance are left out”.
Christine Ourmières-Widener added that, under any circumstances, the Portuguese airline will not leave the region and announced that the number of weekly flights to the region, during the normal period, will increase from six to seven in 2022, from Lisbon and Porto.
"What the majority shareholder [the State, with 72.5 percent of the capital] asked me to do was to manage the company in order to make it a sustainable business", she said, explaining that the objective is to overcome the "difficult financial situation” of the company.