Portugal has decided to fly its planes at two-thirds of capacity as its national airline, TAP, prepares to resume international flights on Thursday.
The restriction took effect on Sunday. According to the corresponding decree, published in the Official Gazette, it enables the authorities to “guarantee an appropriate distance between passengers and ensure their safety.”
However, the decree allows some exceptions, in particular for repatriation flights, on which passengers should be placed in a way that respects social distancing “based on the capacity of the plane and the number of travellers,” according to the decree.
Since early April, TAP Air Portugal has been flying only between the Portuguese mainland and the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. From 5 to 17 May, the national carrier will run two weekly return flights to Paris, and two to London, according to information published on its website.
The airline also plans two exceptional flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 7 and 8 May.
TAP sent 90% of its some 11,000 employees on temporary unemployment as a result of the stay-at-home measures imposed by the government in a bid to stem the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Since midnight, the government has lifted the state of emergency imposed on 19 March and it aims to implement a phased deconfinement plan over the month of May.
This will start on Monday with the reopening of small retail stores, hairdressing salons and car dealerships. However, under a special measure for the current long weekend, the country’s residents could only leave their communes to exercise professions considered essential. That measure remains in effect until midnight on Sunday.
According to the latest official figures, published on Saturday, Portugal has registered 1,023 deaths from Covid-19 for 25,190 cases of infection since the start of the pandemic.