Founded in mid-March, 1945, Transportes Aéreos Portugueses (TAP) started commercial flights on the 19th of September, 1946, connecting Lisbon to Madrid with a Douglas DC-3.
In the following years, new destinations were added to the network, and TAP gets privatized in 1953.
The DC-4 « Skymaster » was added to the fleet in October, 1954.
One year later, the first Lockheed L-1049G « Super Constellation » is added to the fleet.
In 1958, TAP exceeds 1,000 employees, and the last DC-3 is retired.
TAP enters the jet era in July, 1962, when the first of its three Caravelle VI-R aircraft joins the fleet.
As new destinations join the network, TAP reaches a milestone: 1 million passengers transported since it started commercial operations.
In 1967, TAP begins the first all-jet European airline.
In 1969, regular flights to New York were introduced, and Lockheed TriStars, McDonnell Douglas DC-10s and Airbus A300s were added to the fleet in the early 1970s, as well as Boeing 747s, purchased to replace the old 707s.
In 1975, TAP was nationalized, and its name changed to TAP Air Portugal four years later.
In the early 1980s, TAP went through a tough period, as costs increased and losses reached 2 billion dollars.
In 1982, the first Boeing 767-200 was introduced, and the Airbus A310 entered service one year later.
In 1984, the Navigator Class was inaugurated.
In 1988, TAP became the first airline to establish land-air calls via satellite.
One year later, the first non-smoking flights are introduced, and the first female pilot to fly for TAP, Teresa Carvalho, starts her activity.
During 1990, TAP transports over 3 million passengers in a year for the first time.
The Airbus A320, A340 and A319 are introduced into the TAP fleet in 1992-1994-1997.
In 2003, TAP was the first European company to install a new generation of chairs in the executive class on its Airbus A310 and A340 aircraft, and the year closes with almost 20 million EUR profits, the first positive financial outcome in a few years.
In 2005, the fleet reaches 40 aircraft, and the company join Star Alliance.
As of late 2009, the airline is expected to be privatized but negotiations stalled.
In 2010, TAP Portugal was rated « Best Airline to South America » by the World Travel Awards, just as the year before.
In January 2011, JACDEC Airliner Safety Report was released, in which TAP Portugal was rated Western Europe’s safest airline and the world’s fourth safest airline (after Qantas, Finnair and Air New Zealand).
In 2011, at the World Travel Awards (WTA), the « Oscars » of the world travel industry, TAP Portugal was elected World’s Leading Airline to Africa and, for the third consecutive year, World’s Leading Airline to South America.
In 2012, TAP Portugal served 78 destinations in 34 countries across Europe, Africa, South and North America, and some domestic, European and African destinations were operated by Portugalia or PGA Express.
In 2013, Global Traveler Magazine named TAP Portugal the ‘Best Airline in Europe’ for the year.
In July 2014, TAP’s has expanded its network to 88 destinations in 38 countries by adding 11 new destinations to its network: 7 new destinations within Europe (Oviedo – Asturias, Belgrade, Gothenburg, Hannover, Nantes, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn) and 4 in South America (Belem, Bogota, Manaus and Panama City). TAP has consequently enhanced the strategic importance of the Lisbon hub in Europe, for connections within the continent and also for intercontinental connections, particularly to South America and Africa.
In June 2015, TAP Portugal was semi-privatized when the Atlantic Gateway Consortium, a partnership between David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue and Azul and co-founder of WestJet Airlines, and Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa, purchased 61% of the carrier. The Atlantic Gateway Consortium purchased 61% of the carrier from the Portuguese government. However, in February 2016, a new left-wing government returned majority control of the airline to the state when it signed a deal which indicates that the airline is 50% owned by the Portuguese state and 45% by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium.
In March 2016, Portugália Airlines, TAP Portugal’s subsidiary, was rebranded as TAP Express, as part of restructuring measures within the group. The rebranding came along with complete fleet renewal, the entire TAP Express fleet being replaced with new Embraer E190 and E195 and ATR 72 aircraft, with a livery similar to that of TAP Portugal. As of March 2018, TAP Express fleet has an average age of 5.2 years. TAP Express began operating Ponte Aérea, TAP Portugal’s air shuttle service connecting Lisbon and Porto’s airports with hourly flight.
In 2017, TAP expanded its network with 10 routes, some new and some which were previously operated by the airline: Toronto (Canada), London City Airport (England), Cologne and Stuttgart (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Fes (Morocco), Bucharest (Romania), Alicante and Las Palmas (Spain), and Lomé (Togo). In September, TAP Portugal returned to its previous name used between 1979 and 2005, TAP Air Portugal.
In 2018, TAP Air Portugal is expected to take delivery of the first Airbus A320neo and A330-900neo aircraft. TAP Air Portugal is the launch customer for the Airbus A330-900neo. The 20 A330-900neo aircraft on order represent a solid commitment to reinvesting in the wide-body fleet, just as the Airbus A320neos will be the cornerstone of the airline’s reinvestment in next-generation narrow-body aircraft.
The only accident with fatalities involving TAP recorded so far occurred in late November, 1977, when a Boeing 727 overran the runway on landing on Madeira airport due to difficult weather, killing 131 of the 164 people on board.