Ryanair said today it was forced to slash 19 Lisbon routes after it gave up 3 aircraft due to insufficient landing slots.
The move, which has led to the cancellation of 5,000 flights and 900,000 passengers, was caused by Portuguese flag carrier TAP’s decision to hold on to its unused slots.
“We deeply regret all these unnecessary disruptions to passengers on these cancelled flights and the loss of 19 routes caused solely by TAP’s blocking of unused Lisbon Portela slots in Summer 2022,” said chief executive Michael O’Leary.
“This anti-competitive slot blocking obstructs growth, and delays the recovery of traffic, tourism, and jobs at Lisbon Portela, to the detriment of the Lisbon economy.”
O’Leary added that Ryanair has made multiple attempts with Lisbon’s government to intervene but to no avail. According to the airline, the capital will suffer from a €250m tourism loss this summer because of the situation.
“The loss of these 19 Lisbon routes and 5,000 flights this Summer, means that Lisbon’s post Covid recovery will now lag behind other major EU capital cities,” he added.
O’Leary’s comments have revived a longstanding feud between Ryanair – alongside rivals such as Wizz Air – and legacy carriers.
Ryanair accused in January German airlines Lufthansa of “blocking its slots” to protect itself from competition with low-cost airlines after chief executive Carsten Spohr admitted the airline was forced to operate half-empty flights to retain its slots under EU rules.
“The solution to Lufthansa’s ‘ghost flights’ problem is a simple one – just sell these seats to consumers,” O’Leary said on 12 January.
“Lufthansa loves crying crocodile tears about the environment when doing everything possible to protect its slots.
“If Lufthansa doesn’t want to operate “ghost flights” to protect its slots, then simply sell these seats at low fares, and help accelerate the recovery of short and long haul air travel to and from Europe.”