Ryanair threatens to cancel up to 20 routes in Lisbon due to unused slots by TAP

  • ECO News
  • 16 February 2022

Ryanair may cancel up to 20 routes to and from Lisbon this summer due to TAP's accumulation of unused slots. The company expects the government to demand the release of slots by the end of the month.

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, estimates that the airline may be forced to reduce the number of aircraft in Lisbon from seven to four this summer, and could cancel up to 20 routes due to unused slots by TAP. The information was advanced at a press conference on Wednesday.

O’Leary urged the new Portuguese government to “support traffic recovery and force TAP to release the unused slots in Lisbon (which it does not need) before the end of February”. The company’s CEO also accuses TAP of blocking slots, knowing that it cannot use them, as its fleet will be reduced by between 20%, to 25%.

The CEO of Ryanair accused the Portuguese airline of an “unfair blockade” and argued that this measure prevents growth and the recovery of traffic, tourism, and employment at Lisbon airport. The company estimates a potential loss to the Portuguese economy of around €250 million in tourism revenues this summer.

According to the company’s calculations, TAP has released less than 5% of its slots at Lisbon, and claims that the €3 billion state aid has already cost each Portuguese citizen over €300. Ryanair also revealed to continue the legal battle against TAP in the European Commission’s courts. “We expected the European Commission to release some of TAP’s unused slots, but we are shocked. We will have to pull aircraft out of Lisbon if TAP doesn’t release them,” O’Leary said.

Despite the possible reduction, Ryanair has announced 15 new routes for summer 2022 (165 in total), to destinations such as Bari, Billund, Madeira and Paris, and says it expects “quite a strong summer” on the back of the “strong” recovery in bookings, expecting to grow to 11.5 million passengers carried. The company also expects a return to pre-covid numbers by March-April 2022, and forecasts better-than-2019 growth in Madeira, Porto this summer, and Faro.