LONDON – EasyJet gains as the European Commission prioritises the airline for up to 18 daily slots at Lisbon Airport out of all other airlines. This is largely due to the restructuring of TAP Air Portugal, Portugal’s national carrier, as of 16th June 2022.
TAP Air Portugal (TAP) has been undergoing restructuring since the pandemic and has received aid from the Portuguese government.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, overlooking of competition policy, said: “Following an open procedure, EasyJet will obtain 18 of the daily take-off and landing slots currently held by TAP at Lisbon airport.”
“This will encourage competition in the European aviation sector, as it will enable easyJet to expand its activities at this congested airport, contributing to fair prices and increased choice for European consumers.”
“This also helps ensure that the financial support given to TAP by Portugal to allow the carrier to return to viability has no undue negative effect on the Single Market.”
Slots Commitment from TAP
The European Commission green-lighted a financial package for TAP Group worth €2.55 billion to restructure the airline on the 21st of December 2021. The financial aid has been reviewed and approved by the guidelines on state aid for companies in distress.
This will inevitably assist TAP to navigate through hard times, such as cost reduction and limiting unfair competition.
The airline welcomes state aid, but however, a trade-off has to be done. Operating out of its hub at Lisbon Airport, where it is already structurally congested with limited room for operational expansion, TAP has to yield its way to other airlines.
The Portuguese flag carrier is willing to give up 18 of its daily landing and take-off slots at its home base to a competing airline. This is to allow competition, and as an off-set to TAPs financial injection by the European Commission.
To oversee this transition, a monitoring trustee was appointed by the airline by the Portuguese airline.
EasyJet it is!
The ‘other’ competing carrier that TAP has to give its 18 slots to is Easyjet, Europe no frill’s airline. The low-cost carrier applied and was eventually approved by the Commission, following a transparent procedure overseen by a Monitoring Trustee.
This means that EasyJet will be able to expand its operations out of Lisbon Airport, and even offer new routes as of 30th October this year.
EasyJet operating out of Lisbon means better choices and options for those travelling to Lisbon, an already popular travel destination for many Europeans. The awarding of the 18 available slots to the airline is a huge win.
Nevertheless, TAP Portugal is expected to exit the restructuring regime stronger and more streamlined than ever before.