Following the start of the slot reallocation process on Feb. 25, the EC said a number of airlines had voiced interest in the LIS remedy slots, which are a condition of the EC clearing Portugal’s €2.55 billion ($2.68 billion) aid package for TAP.
Airlines’ proposals were ranked by additional seat capacity a carrier would offer with the slots, and easyJet emerged as the leading candidate.
“EasyJet has now priority to conclude with TAP Air Portugal the agreement for the slot transfer that will allow easyJet to expand its operations at Lisbon Airport and offer new flights as of Oct. 30, 2022,” the EC said in a statement.
“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,” Margrethe Vestager, the EC’s executive VP in charge of competition policy, said. “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 [European] single market.”
Gaining additional slots at a congested airport is valuable for easyJet, fitting with the UK LCC’s long-term strategy of developing leading positions at European hubs.
EasyJet said the slots equate to three aircraft of additional capacity at LIS. However, like other European airlines, easyJet is continuing to battle labor-related operational problems in the post-pandemic ramp up.
In a June 20 trading update, easyJet said it is continuing to consolidate flights, forcing it to reduce capacity through the end of the September quarter.
EasyJet had expected capacity for the three months ending June 30 to reach around 90% of 2019 levels, but this forecast has now been reduced to 87% of 2019 levels. Likewise, September capacity expectations have been lowered from 97% to 90% of pre-pandemic capacity levels.
“We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods,” easyJet said.