To respond to the problems caused by the suspension of flights between Portugal and Brazil, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced for next Saturday – 27 February – a “flight to support the return of Brazil for humanitarian reasons”. Minister Augusto Santos Silva’s office added that this flight would be “operated by TAP”. Portuguese and foreigners residing in Portugal who were in Brazil and in immediate need of returning to Portugal would be included.
In this flight that the Government calls “humanitarian flight” – here defined criteria defined by the personal, health or subsistence circumstances of each passenger – passengers with tickets purchased from Brazilian operators Azul and Latam are excluded. Among these, and for those who need to travel this week, TAP is charging an amount of 837.90 euros. The plane will make the trip to São Paulo on February 26 with 298 seats. The same will happen on the return to Lisbon. 298 more seats. In a universe of about 520 people who need to travel between the two countries at the moment, only about 200 have their tickets purchased at TAP.
This approximate total number of people also includes Brazilian citizens (or other nationalities resident in Brazil) who planned to return permanently to their country on non-TAP flights before they knew that air connections would be closed. Among them, in Portugal, there are large dozens of people who left their jobs and the houses they rented because they were leaving in February. Some took their children out of school because they had started their transfer process to a school in Brazil, where the academic year begins in early February.
Tickets for sale
Contacted on Monday to clarify how a “humanitarian flight” to meet the needs of passengers traveling for “humanitarian reasons” is, after all, only addressed to those who have purchased or are now purchasing a ticket of more than 800 euros, the MNE referred the questions to Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities.
In reply, the Secretary of State confirms that “to passengers who already had a ticket from this airline [TAP], and only this, a free change of the ticket is made, as long as within the same fare class ”. And he adds: “The rest apply the price for this flight practiced by TAP.” In other words: those who still did not have a ticket with TAP can purchase it.
However, he adds that this “TAP flight from São Paulo to Lisbon, on the 27th, is intended to support the return to national territory, for humanitarian reasons, of national citizens, the European Union and countries associated with the Schengen area, and their relatives (…) taking into account, as the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs in the European Affairs Commission said, ‘a broad and humanistic definition of what are humanitarian reasons’ ”.
And he makes it known that “the air carrier has been contacting passengers who, being Portuguese or foreign citizens with a residence permit in Portugal, have expressed to the Portuguese consular posts in Brazil the need for immediate return to national territory”.
“Where are the foreign ministers? Where are the consulates? ”, Asks the president of the Brazilian Association of Portugal and head of the Council of Brazilian Citizens in Lisbon, Ricardo Amaral Pessôa, who has lived in Portugal for 30 years. “They represent their citizens and are limited to submitting a proposal that does not solve the problem of most people in this situation.”
In the list that Ricardo Amaral added to the letter sent to a representative of the Armed Forces of Brazil, in an attempt to sensitize the authorities in Brasilia to the problem of citizens in Portugal, where they represent the largest immigrant community with more than 150 thousand residents, there are more than 300 signatories to a petition to urge the Brazilian Government to act.
Among these, 140 had flights booked with TAP, and the majority (178) had purchased tickets from Latam or Azul, making it impossible to board this “humanitarian flight”. In the opposite direction, and in an identical petition, sent to the PUBLIC by a Portuguese in Brazil, Catarina Miranda, there are 160 people. Of these, only 60 planned to travel on TAP.
Thus, the number of candidates for a flight to support immediate return (in both directions) is estimated at around 520, and 200 are contemplated by the initiative announced by Portugal as a humanitarian flight and by Brazil as an extraordinary and private commercial flight .
“The Brazilian embassy in Lisbon and the Consulates General in Lisbon, Porto and Faro inform that the governments of Brazil and Portugal, through their respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs, have negotiated the realization of an extraordinary commercial flight by the airline TAP between Lisbon and Guarulhos ”, said the note published on Friday at the end of the day.
“Interested parties must deal directly with TAP” to book flights using a form that will be made available by the company at site of the same, added the note, which invoked the “state of emergency and the restrictions in force in Portugal” the fact that only passengers with tickets confirmed by TAP can enter the airport.
However, the company Latam is organizing at least two flights with a stopover in Madrid at no extra cost for those who would fly with this company before the suspension of connections, says Ricardo Pessôa, who says it is possible to solve the problem. “People are being contacted by Latam and we in the association are trying to refer more people to this Latam. We still don’t know if Azul will do the same. ” At no additional cost, passengers leave Lisbon on an Iberian flight to Madrid. From the Spanish capital go to Guarulhos airport, São Paulo.
On that flight, will be Aline Kelle Rodrigues, who had planned to travel on February 8 with tickets purchased in October. For this mother of three, aged three, 11 and 13, traveling on this extraordinary flight operated by TAP would cost more than 3200 euros. Aline has enough money for the four tests to covid-19 and little else. With Luís Villalobos