Ground handlers in Funchal fear for jobs

Portway workers concerned about loss of flights

The Diario reports that members of the Workers Committee of the company Portway Handling Portugal SA, who operate ground-handling services at Funchal airport, are expressing concern about the consequences of changing the social mobility allowance for residents of the island of Madeira.

The position was taken, this Thursday, February 13, in a note addressed to the media, following the approval by the Assembly of the Republic of the PSD-Madeira proposal regarding the change to the social mobility allowance for Madeira, where residents pay only the price stipulated for round-trip air tickets -€86 for residents and €65 for students, without having to advance reimbursable amounts.

“It is unequivocal that this measure benefits all Madeirans, reinforces the principle of territorial continuity and reduces the impact of insularity. However, this approval of the change in the payment of this subsidy, brought many concerns to Portway workers, especially to Funchal scale workers, because EasyJet and Transavia threaten to abandon the domestic routes”, explains the Workers Commttee of Portway, adding that “the positions of the airlines are due exclusively to political interference”.

“We regret that the Regional Secretary for Tourism and Culture of Madeira, considers easyJet’s position to be a bluff, is Transavia also making a“ bluff ”?”, asks the handling company, stressing that “this position is of unprecedented irresponsibility”. “Both companies are assisted by Portway and this is calling into question hundreds of jobs”, the Committee maintains.

On the other hand, Portway workers ask the question: “Will easyJet, Transavia and Portway serve as a bargaining chip for the government to reach an old desire for Madeira to have a third operator connecting between Lisbon and Funchal ? ”

Portway has been assisting easyJet in the Autonomous Region of Madeira since 2007. In 2008, it started to assist domestic flights (Lisbon-Funchal and Porto-Funchal). In 2019, Portway Handling Portugal SA provided assistance to more than 2,000 domestic easyJet flights in Funchal alone and to more than 5,000 nationally in 2019.

For its part, Transavia has operated connecting flights to and from Porto since 2010, and in 2019 alone, just over 1400 flights were assisted on the Funchal scale and more than 2800 flights nationwide carrying over 200 thousand passengers.

“These figures demonstrate well the economic impact that Portway may suffer due to the lack of prudence of political power”, reinforces the Portway Workers’ Committee, noting that “even APAVT has doubts that the new mobility subsidy regime in Madeira favors the activity in the sector ”.

“We are seriously concerned about the possibility of deteriorating working conditions and job losses at the national level”, emphasizes the company, recalling that, in July 2018, the vice president of the Regional Government of Madeira said he was confident that it would be a solution was found for low-cost companies, such as easyJet, to be compensated on the issue of mobility subsidies on trips between the island and the continent.

“We would like to know what measures have been created to safeguard the interests of Portway Handling Portugal SA workers in Funchal?”, asks the Committee, also appealing “to the common sense of all those involved in the process”.

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