Brussels insists on less slots and blocked hours

 In Aviation, News, TAP

TAP is likely to retain its status as a hub for South America, Europe and Africa but faces the number of slots and the times it blocks those slots reduced following pressure from low-cost airlines who have been arguing that TAP gets unfair advantage.

The Portuguese government delivered the restructuring plan for the loss-making airline in December last year and hopes the process will be completed by the end of this year.
The take off and landing time slots at Lisbon airport have been the main source of criticism in the negotiations between Lisbon and Brussels because the Government argues that it puts at risk TAP’s position as a hub between the United States, Latin America and Africa, in Lisbon.
The airline will have to give up more than the six medium haul slots it had originally offered and will now have to slash them by 20 slots (it has 300).
But it is the times of the slots rather than the numbers that will have to be relinquished that is a more important issue, and the pressure to rebalance the timetable in favour of airlines like Ryanair.
The impact would be even greater if they involve more valuable slots that currently enable TAP to make connections between long haul flights to the US and Brazil.
The Government expects the process to be completed in December after having its high hopes for a quick resolution dashed back in the summer.
This was because Ryanair challenged the financial support that the State was to give TAP and other companies on the grounds of unfair competition. The European Union’s General Tribunal ordered the annulment of a €1.2Bn capital injection in 2020 pending the outcome of deliberations.
The court stated that the European Commission had not shown in an unequivocal way that an injection of Portuguese tax payers’ money was the only way possible to save the airline, and that it would not benefit third parties unfairly.
Brussels continues to inform the media “a thorough investigation is ongoing and we cannot anticipate either the results or the time frame for its completion”.