TAP loses 12 slots

 In Aviation, News, Real Estate, TAP

TAP will lose 12 slots at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado International Airport, double the number contained in the original offer, but less than the 20 feared.

However, the airline, which has to relinquish the slots under EC orders in the name of fair competition, wants to choose half of the 12 it has to sacrifice.
The question of the which slots and when is the centre of the latest negotiations between Brussels and Lisbon which the Portuguese Government believes will drag on until the end of the year.
The issue of prime time landing and takeoff slots has been the bone of contention between TAP and the Directorate-General of European Competition (DG Comp).
The Government’s offer was to give way on just six slots (the equivalent of 12 landings and takeoffs), but the EU Commission said it wasn’t enough and showed a “lack of willingness to compromise regarding the time slots at Lisbon”, given the high level of congestion at the airport, and the high percentage of slots held by TAP (50-60%).
The issue of the time slots has also been a fly in the ointment for low-cost airline Ryanair. The company’s CEO Michael O’Leary had accused TAP of “blocking slots” and put pressure on the EC to act.
“If these slots were freed up, we would invest more in Portugal and tourism would recover quicker,” he said.
More recently, Ryanair has blamed TAP for the cancelling of 700 flights and three routes to Lisbon precisely because of the slots timetable.
With the year coming to an end, and a massive cash injection expected and needed by TAP, the Government is caught between a rock and a hard place, and will have to give up the 12 slots required by the European Commission. At the moment the issue is not just the number of slots, but the times of those slots that will have to be reallocated to Ryanair.
TAP says the impact on the airline of relinquishing prime time slots which involve large amounts of passengers on long haul flights to the US and Brazil would be financially damaging to the company. Therefore it wants to choose the times of half of the 12 slots it has to give up.
TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener (pictured) expects that Brussels will approve TAP’s restructuring plan by Christmas.
According to Reuters, the TAP chief executive said that TAP could become part of a consolidation of the airline industry in future, but that this was not the main priority now.