easyJet has received permission from the European Commission to use the 18 slots at Lisbon Airport that had been relinquished by flag carrying TAP. TAP was forced to release the slots in return for financial aid to help it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in February this year Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair and Europe’s largest low-cost carrier and the number two operator at Lisbon wrote to the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa to release TAP’s unused slots by March 4, citing Ryanair’s significant investment in Lisbon and the Portuguese economy. O’Leary also threatened to reduce the carrier’s service out of Lisbon if the slots were not made available by the summer, warning that the relocation of aircraft could result in the loss of 150 staff and one million passengers at Lisbon Airport.
However, when the slots were put up for tender, it was easyJet who was the successful bidder, allowing it to leapfrog Ryanair to now become the second-largest operator out of Lisbon, ahead of Ryanair. Compared to pre-pandemic levels easyJet has grown by 18% in Portugal: 14% in Lisbon, 50% in Oporto, and 63% in Funchal and in addition the low-cost carrier opened its latest Portuguese base in Faro in 2021.
Jose Lopes, country manager Portugal, easyJet, commented: “We are really pleased with the European Commission’s decision to assign 18 new slots at Lisbon airport to easyJet. This will enable us to keep growing significantly in one of our most important markets.” The slots will become available for use at the end of October 2022 and as part of the tender bid, easyJet had to commit the required number of aircraft to use the slots until the end of 2025.