Ryanair to contest TAP restructuring cash
The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair says it will contest the financial aspect of a top-to-bottom restructuring plan for Portgual’s national carrier TAP in response to a European Commission investigation into Portuguese State help to the airline.
As part of the investigation interested parties can send their arguments and opinions about the restructuring to the General Directorate of Competition and Ryanair which says State funding of TAP is unfair and creating disloyal competition because without it TAP would be unviable and collapse.
Rival low cost airline easyJet, while aware of the situation, had not sent any comments by Friday as to whether it will act or not.
Ryanair, which is led by Michael O’Leary said it would “appeal against any decision from the European Union that approves the plan since it is discriminatory and rewards TAP for years of losses and poor financial management”.
But TAP which employs thousands of staff has become a question of national pride for the Portuguese government which has already seen dozens of companies slip out of Portuguese control since the last financial crisis.
easyJet said in a statement that it would “continue to follow developments with interest to ensure that the market and competition in Portugal would not become distorted”.
The various interested parties had a month from 6 August to respond to TAP’s restructuring plan which involves State aid of €3.2Bn.
Ryanair says it will continue to argue for a level playing field for airline companies that are generating jobs and bringing millions of visitors to Portugal”.
Ryanair would stand to gain significantly from the collapse or sale of TAP, assets could be taken over and the airline could easily fill the gap by taking over some of its short-haul flights within Europe.
The low cost airline also complains that TAP is controlling the best slots at Lisbon’s international airport even though it sometimes doesn’t use them.
“If these slots were freed up, we would invest more in Portugal and tourism would recover more quickly,” says Michael O’Leary.