In an interview with ECO, Ryanair's CEO says that TAP is "asking the European Commission" to give the slots to easyJet. And he contradicts NAV, saying that TAP can lend slots.
Ryanair’s CEO believes that the Irish airline meets the necessary criteria to take over the 18 slots that TAP has to give up at Lisbon airport. However, he believes that TAP is putting pressure on the European Commission to allocate those slots to competitor easyJet. “We are waiting for a decision. But I assume that TAP is there [in Brussels] asking them to give the slots to easyJet,” Michael O’Leary said in an interview with ECO.
Ryanair has been harshly criticising the government’s stance towards TAP for several months, from state aid to unused slots at Lisbon airport. “No other airline wants to grow in Lisbon,” says Michael O’Leary, justifying his criticism and ultimatums to the Portuguese government. “We are growing fast in Portugal and this year we will overtake TAP and become the number one airline in terms of passengers carried,” he noted.
“What is holding us back from growing more in Lisbon in recent years has been the lack of slots and the continued failed attempt to reopen [airport] Montijo,” continued the Irish airline’s CEO, in an interview with ECO this Wednesday.
The low-cost company CEO also said that TAP can lend slots to Ryanair, as the latter has been requesting: “There is absolutely nothing to prevent airlines from lending slots, as happens at most airports. Airlines can lend slots to whoever they want,” said Michael O’Leary.
The position of Ryanair’s CEO clashes with that of NAV Portugal, which had told ECO in March that such a hypothesis was not possible. “That’s nonsense,” replied Michael O’Leary. It is NAV’s Slot Coordination Office that manages the slots and, to the ECO, an official source from the company had explained that “slot mobility”, provided for in the European regulation, can only happen in three specific situations and that in none of them is the loan of slots foreseen.