MIAMI – Ryanair (FR) will cancel 700 flights and three Lisbon routes to Tours, Oujda, and Bari this Winter, blaming TAP’s (TP) hoarding of unused slots at Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS).

Despite the cooperation of the slot coordinator and the airport operator, FR says this anti-competitive “slot blockage” has prevented it from acquiring enough slots for planned new route growth. FR adds that TP’s goal to reduce its fleet by 20% means it won’t be able to fill all of its spaces.

The airline concludes that Lisbon’s connectivity and post-Covid recovery will be harmed by these canceled flights.

Ryanair was adamant when adding that the Portuguese government and the European Commission must immediately intervene to eliminate TP’s anti-competitive “slot blocking,” free up this underutilized capacity at Lisbon Portela and allow airlines to expand at Lisbon Montijo Airport (LPMT).

Ryanair afternoon. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

A US$700m investment at Stake

The airline says it is crucial that Portugal’s critical national infrastructure is used to assist the local economy rather than being exploited to sustain an inefficient “zombie airline” on which the Portuguese government has already squandered €3bn in taxpayer funds.

For the winter season, FR will maintain all seven aircraft (a US$700m investment) and crew in Lisbon to ensure that it is ready and able to resume all flights if enough landing and take-off slots become available.

Featured image: Ryanair Boeing 737-8 9H-QAL. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways