Ryanair blames TAP for cancelling 700 flights and 3 Lisbon routes

The Irish airline Ryanair accuses TAP of "hoarding" slots at Lisbon airport.

Ryanair said on Friday it had to cancel 700 flights and three routes to Lisbon because TAP is “hoarding” slots at Lisbon airport. In question are the routes to Tours, Oujda and Bari this Winter, according to the low-cost airline’s statement.

“We deeply regret these unnecessary disruptions to passengers from these cancelled flights and routes caused by TAP’s blocking of slots which it is not using. This anti-competitive slot blocking obstructs the growth of airlines and the recovery of traffic, tourism and jobs at Lisbon Portela Airport, to the detriment of Portuguese consumers,” revealed Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair Group, quoted in a statement.

Ryanair confirmed that “it has been forced to cancel 700 flights and three Lisbon routes (to Tours, Oujda and Bari) this Winter due to TAP’s continued hoarding of take-off and landing slots (which TAP does not use) at Lisbon Portela Airport,” the company explained in greater detail in the same statement, adding that “TAP’s plan to cut its fleet by 20% means it simply cannot use all the slots it holds.”

A situation that will “damage Lisbon’s connectivity and post-Covid recovery,” says the airline, which calls on António Costa’s government and the European Commission to “intervene to end TAP’s anti-competitive “slot blocking”, free up this unused capacity at Lisbon Portela and open Lisbon Montijo Airport to allow airlines to grow.”

“It is essential that Portugal’s critical national infrastructure is used to support the local economy and not abused to protect an inefficient zombie airline, which the Portuguese Government has already wasted €3bn of taxpayers’ money on,” the airline criticised.

Despite what happened, Ryanair assured that it will keep “all seven aircraft (a US$700 million investment) and crew in place in Lisbon this Winter to ensure it is ready and able to reinstate all flights if sufficient slots are freed up.”