Europe’s leading budget airline confirms new base in Lisbon

Getting to a home in Portugal is set to get easier for Britons and other Europeans, after low-cost carrier Ryanair announced at the end of January it will open its third Portuguese base at Lisbon in April this year.

Ryanair confirmed it will invest more than $90million at Lisbon’s Portela Airport, where it will have one based aircraft and offer four new routes, bringing its total out of the Portuguese capital to nine destinations.

This development means that from April 2014 Ryanair will also offer flights to Dole (France), Marseille, Manchester and Pisa, in addition to its existing services to Stansted, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt and Dublin. This will bring the airline’s total number of weekly flights out of Lisbon to 124, carrying up to 900,000 passengers. The new base will also create 900 onsite jobs, according to a Ryanair statement.

Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien said: “Ryanair is delighted to announce Lisbon as our 65th base – and our third in Portugal – and to unveil four new routes to Dole, Manchester, Marseille and Pisa beginning in April, as part of our summer 2014 schedule. Our four new Lisbon routes will allow Portuguese consumers and visitors to escape TAP’s high fares and instead enjoy Ryanair’s lowest fares and industry leading customer service and punctuality. Only Ryanair, with its 175 new aircraft order, can deliver the capacity, new markets and low costs demanded by Portuguese consumers and visitors, and looks forward to working with Lisbon Airport to unlock the vast potential currently suppressed by high access air costs.”

Positive vibes from Portuguese property market for second month running

Good news for the real estate market in Portugal comes from the latest RICS/Ci Portuguese Housing Market Survey (PHMS) which show an improvement in sales conditions during December 2013.

According to the PHMS, sales activity in Portugal’s property market rose marginally at the headline level for the second consecutive month and is expected to rise further in the near term. While new buyer enquiries experienced little change during December, the survey added that the national confidence index in Portugal remained positive for a second month in succession and now stands at +6. This is the best reading since the survey was launched in 2010, and only the third occasion in which a positive reading has been posted.

Portuguese house prices do remain in decline, added PHMS, but at the slowest pace in the survey’s history. Despite this, respondents are still projecting further falls in the coming three months.

In the lettings sector, tenant demand remained relatively flat whilst landlord instructions fell, representing the third straight month in which they have done so. Rents continue to fall, a trend which looks set to continue in the near term at least, as the expectations series points to further decline during the coming quarter.

By way of contrast, lettings activity is still anticipated to grow during the next three months. In terms of the regional breakdown, the negative trend in house prices has diminished considerably in Lisbon and the balance now stands in comparatively neutral territory. In addition, Lisbon was in fact the only area to see a pick-up in activity, whilst Porto remained stable and the Algarve experienced a marginal decline.

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller commented: “The December survey results again highlight a gradual improvement in the sales market environment, particularly with respect to activity levels. This is in keeping with the more encouraging economic news of late, however, there is still a long way to go until these trends may be regarded as genuinely sustainable.”

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller says: “The December survey results again highlight a gradual improvement in the sales market environment, particularly with respect to activity levels. This is in keeping with the more encouraging economic news of late, however, there is still a long way to go until these trends may be regarded as genuinely sustainable.”

Hunger for property in Portugal surging, according to leading property portal

Interest in Portuguese property saw a huge hike last month, according to the leading UK property portal Rightmove Overseas, whose December report for on-line searches was dominated by destinations along Portugal’s Silver Coast.

The destination on Rightmove Overseas that received the highest increase in searches for property in terms of percentage during December was Alvaiázere, near Leiria on the Silver Coast. The second highest increase was in Ansião, also in the Silver Coast area, followed by Caldas da Rainha a little further south, and then Leiria. The term with the fifth highest increase in searches was the Silver Coast itself.

Commenting on the climbers and fallers in this month’s search chart, Shameem Golamy, Head of Rightmove Overseas said: “Interest in Portugal grew significantly in December, with Portuguese destinations featuring in the top five climber positions. National television campaigns and media advertising appear to be raising awareness to the benefits of buying property in Portugal, however what is particularly interesting is the amount of traffic we are receiving from international users. After the UK and Portugal, people from Canada, Hong Kong, the UAE and the US have browsed Rightmove Overseas to look for Portuguese property. So why the interest from non-EU countries? Well, it’s highly possible that these are potential investors looking to purchase property for that all important Golden Visa.”

Portugal’s performance in Rightmove Overseas’s most recent report contrasts with that of Spain, which dominated the list of destinations that saw the highest decrease in searches. Compared to Portugal’s famous Algarve in the south, the Silver Coast is known for its dramatic cliff-lined beaches, cooler climate, greener countryside and minimal development.

€6million committed to attracting more foreigners to the Algarve in 2014

Tourism businesses and homeowners who let their property in the Algarve will welcome the news that the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) has pledged €6million for the sole purpose of rising awareness of the Algarve in other countries.

The new president of the Algarve Tourism Association, Carlos Luís, said at the start of January: “Our budget this year is in the region of six million euros which could possibly be increased through applications. Half of that amount has already been received – for the first time it was received right at the beginning of the year, which helps us a lot because we have a lot of planning to do.”

ATA’s budget is based on the amount of investment committed by private companies – which this year is €1million – which is then matched by the Regional Tourism Board (RTA). The national tourist board Turismo de Portugal then puts in four times whatever the private sector invested, which this year equates to €4million.

Over the whole year, Turismo de Portugal is expected to transfer a total of around €5.9million to the ATA and the RTA, for the sole purpose of promoting the Algarve in Portugal and overseas. The knock-on effects can only be positive for the property market in the Algarve.

Meanwhile, new figures from the Algarve’s largest hospitality association, AHETA, showed that revenue generated from Algarve hotels and resorts during December increased by 2.2 per cent compared to December 2012. The areas of Vilamoura, Quarteira, Quinta do Lago, Carvoeiro, Armação de Pêra and Albufeira registered the biggest growths in occupation, with tourists mainly choosing to stay in three-star holiday villages or tourist apartments, followed by five and four star units.

Portugal rated one of 12 most exciting tourist destinations for 2014

The forecast is looking good for Portugal’s tourist industry and holiday homeowners, after leading travel association ABTA included it in its list of 12 hot holiday destinations for 2014.

Portugal features alongside exotic places such as Mexico, Malaysia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mauritius, and is noted by ABTA for its “great food, historic cities, rugged coastline and stunning countryside, all done with great charm”. Neither Spain nor France featured on the list, which was compiled in association with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The ABTA report that accompanied the list highlighted that British holidaymakers have always loved Portugal and in 2013 visitor numbers were up by over eight per cent. It added that with new direct flights in 2014 to the main cities Lisbon and Oporto, savvy holidaymakers will be heading off to these two beautiful and historic towns for a city break with a difference. Meanwhile, the Algarve has a year round good climate and remains the main draw for UK holidaymakers, with surfers and more adventurous holidaymakers heading for the big waves and dramatic coves of Europe’s most south westerly point Sagres.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “We know that Brits hate to cut back on their holidays and after several years of tough market conditions, we are seeing early signs of more optimism amongst British consumers. However, with the squeeze on household budgets continuing, we are expecting that tried and tested destinations and package holidays will continue to perform well in the coming year. We are also expecting  a range of other overseas destinations to prove popular in 2014, as well as another good year for domestic tourism after the heatwave in the UK in summer 2013.”

Portugal was ranked fifth in ABTA’s top 10 holiday destinations in its report in October 2013, attracting 1.6 million British holidaymakers. Maintaining a high level of foreign tourism is good news for owners of property in the Algarve, who can benefit from holiday lets.