European regional company
In April 1997 the Company launches seven new destinations in the Iberian Peninsula and the United Kingdom: Barcelona, Bilbao, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca and Manchester. To satisfy the growing operational needs and to make the fleet more flexible six Embraer 145 (49 seats) aircraft are bought.
The expansion to the French market happened between 1998 and 1999 with five new important destinations: Nice, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Still in 1999, a code-share agreement with the Moroccan Company Regional Air Lines added the Casablanca route, Portugália Airlines first non-European destination. The Company’s fleet stabilized in 2000 with 14 aircraft (6 Fokker 100 and 8 Embraer 145) operating until 2016. Portugália Airlines asserted itself on the European market as a private and innovative airline, guided by high level service standards. Its efficient and rigorous management and the team’s dedication and commitment to the passengers earned international recognition, as evidenced when it received the title of Best Regional Airline in Europe 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and the Skytrax Award for Best Cabin Staff in Europe, in 2005.
In 2004 Portugália Airlines spun-off its handling area and associated itself with the TAP Group. SPdH – Serviços Portugueses de Handling, SA, where the Company has 6% of the share capital, was created as a result of such a process. Later that company changed its name to Groundforce.