UK carrier easyJet is to base three additional Airbus A321neo aircraft in Portugal’s capital Lisbon (LIS) after securing 18 new daily slots at the airport.
The expansion will allow the airline to launch 14 new routes during the forthcoming northern winter season, as well as increasing frequencies to a further eight destinations. The move grows the LCC’s network at the airport to 32 routes, two of which are domestic.
In June, easyJet won approval from the European Commission to acquire the 18 daily slots from TAP Air Portugal as part of the latter's rescue plan agreed with EU regulators last year.
The EC approved a financial aid package for the state-owned carrier in December 2021 but ruled that it must concede the slots to help preserve “effective competition.”
German advisory firm Alcis Advisers was appointed by Brussels in early February to oversee the implementation of commitments given by TAP as part of the restructure, including the slot transfer.
“We are extremely glad to unveil part of easyJet's new network at Lisbon airport that will start operating later in 2022 and which will turn easyJet into the second largest carrier operating at Lisbon airport,” said José Lopes, easyJet country manager for Portugal.
“Despite the challenging external environment, we've never stopped investing in Portugal in the last two years, opening a new base In Faro in 2021 and continuously launching new routes from both Lisbon and Porto throughout the period.
“By the end of the year, we will have 19 aircraft based in Portugal which will enable us to carry more than 10 million passengers every year, contributing significantly to the connectivity of the country and playing a key role in supporting the national economy.”
Overall, easyJet will make 1.75 million seats available for sale this winter season to and from Lisbon, a 61% increase compared to last year. From the start of the winter season, the carrier will have a total of 19 aircraft based in Portugal, a network of more than 80 routes to and from the country and expects to carry 10.3 million passengers annually.
The planned 14 new routes from Lisbon include flights to Birmingham (BHX) in the UK, Valencia (VLC) in Spain, and Zurich (ZRH) in Switzerland. Spain’s capital Madrid (MAD), Lyon (LYS) in France and Milan Malpensa (MXP) in Italy will also see additional frequencies.
Earlier this week, easyJet announced that it flew 22 million passengers in the third quarter (Q3) of its financial year to the end of June, representing 87% the capacity offered during Q3 of its 2019 financial year. Load factors continued to build over the quarter, rising from 86% in April to 92% in June.