Deadline to apply for TAP slots ends with only two known bidders

  • ECO News
  • 24 March 2022

The deadline for submitting bids for the 18 slots that TAP will have to give up ends today. Only Ryanair and easyJet have declared an interest.

The deadline for submitting expressions of interest for the 18 slots at Lisbon airport that TAP was forced to give up by the European Commission ends today. There are only two known interested parties, in a process that caught the sector again at a tough moment. Despite the turbulence, nothing has changed in the tender.

Ryanair and easyJet are the only two to have publicly stated their desire to retain the slots that allow them to land and take off at Humberto Delgado. The British low-cost carrier has been reiterating its interest, promising to base three more planes in Lisbon and to create 100 jobs if it wins.

The Irish airline led by Michael O’Leary even wanted to operate slots that TAP is not using as of the end of this month, having even written a letter to the prime minister asking for his intervention. This claim has not been met, and so it will have to wait for the result of the tender.

After TAP, these are also the airlines with the greatest involvement with the Portuguese market. According to ANAC data, in January, the last month for which data is available, Ryanair carried 22.3% of the 1.9 million passengers that passed through Portuguese airports, followed by easyJet, with 11.4%. The Portuguese airline had a 34.3% share.

The ceding of 18 slots (9 take-off and landing pairs) was one of the measures imposed by the European Commission to approve TAP’s restructuring plan and the injection of €3.2 billion in state aid. A measure justified with the need to safeguard competition, creating space for a new player or the strengthening of an existing one at the overcrowded airport in the capital.

The Government and the Portuguese company fought in Brussels against the measure, trying to restrict to a minimum the number of slots to be delivered. Between the slots it no longer uses and those it will have to give up, TAP will be left with around 50% of the capacity of Humberto Delgado Airport, according to the full version of the European Commission’s decision.

The decision was announced by Brussels on December 21, but the final draft was only published on February 11. As is usual in such cases, a consultant was appointed to conduct and monitor the process. The choice fell on the German company Alcis Advisers.

According to the tender announcement, consulted by ECO, the deadline for expressions of interest ends this Thursday, March 24. The announcement will published on March 25.