TAAG Angola Airlines has started operating flights between Luanda, Angola’s capital and Madrid, Spain’s capital. The Angolan flag carrier’s first flight to Madrid – which lasted for 6 hours 51 minutes – took off on June 27. TAAG will continue to serve that route twice a week.
This is the first new European route the airline has undertaken since 2011 and is rather unusual, as it primarily focuses on Portuguese-speaking long-haul destinations; Angola’s official language is Portuguese.
The only other European destination TAAG flies to is Lisbon, Portugal, with flights that operate up to twice daily during the summer. The airline also used to fly to Porto, another major city in Portugal, between 2011 and 2020. Outside Africa, the airline also serves São Paulo, Brazil and Havana, Cuba.
Within the continent, it operates flights to South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and São Tomé and Principe. The airline currently does not serve any North or East African routes.
TAAG’s current flight schedule will see the airline fly to Madrid on Sundays and Thursdays and back from Europe on Mondays and Fridays. The airline will make use of its four active 293-seat Boeing B777 aircraft.
Before now, the only airline that served the Madrid-Luanda route was Iberia, Spain’s flag carrier. However, they stopped serving the route in 2016, leaving it unattended to for over 6 years.
Iberia has decided to tap into the route opportunity again, but this time, via a codeshare and interline agreement with TAAG to serve the Luanda-Madrid-Luanda gateway route. The agreement – which was announced in May – will allow travellers from TAAG’s Africa-based network to connect via Madrid to Iberia’s network in Europe and the Americas, reaching more than 100 destinations across 43 countries. It will also be beneficial for Iberia as it will allow their passengers connect to TAAG’s network in Africa.
According to Simple Flying, booking data shows that about 10,000 roundtrip passengers flew the Luanda-Madrid route in 2019. This translates to just 14 passengers daily each way (PDEW) – a value that is rather low for a long-haul flight.
However, relative to the local demand, Madrid was a choice destination for Angola that year. Amongst its unserved markets, only London Heathrow had more passengers than Madrid. Moreso, the code share agreement will significantly boost traffic in that route.
The hope is that the route will open the door to stronger trade relationships between Spain and Angola. The latter boasts of a population of over 30 million, and is rich in mineral resources such as oil and diamonds.
In 2021, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the country would, through investments by Spanish companies, help to diversify the Angolan economy away from oil. The Southern African country holds a strategic importance to Spain. Angola is named as priority country in Spain’s Focus Africa 2023 plan, due to its political weight, economic potential and regional goals.
Sources: Simple Flying, Aerotime Hub