According to Ryanair: “This anti-competitive slot blocking has prevented Ryanair from obtaining sufficient slots (despite the assistance of the slot coordinator and the airport operator), for planned new route growth. TAP’s plan to cut its fleet by 20 percent means it simply cannot use all the slots it holds”.

The company believes that cancelled flights will damage Lisbon’s connectivity and post-Covid recovery and are asking for the Portuguese Government and the European Commission to now intervene to end TAP’s anti-competitive “slot blocking”.

“It is essential that Portugal’s critical national infrastructure is used to support the local economy and not abused to protect an inefficient zombie airline, which the Portuguese Government has already wasted €3 billion of taxpayers’ money on.

Ryanair has also stated that the company will keep all seven aircraft (a $700m investment) and crew in place in Lisbon this winter “to ensure it is ready and able to reinstate all flights if sufficient slots are freed up”.

Ryanair’s Group CEO, Michael O’Leary, said: “We deeply regret these unnecessary disruptions to passengers from these cancelled flights and routes caused by TAP’s blocking of slots which it is not using. This anti-competitive slot blocking obstructs the growth of airlines and the recovery of traffic, tourism and jobs at Lisbon Portela Airport, to the detriment of Portuguese consumers.

“Ryanair remains committed to working with our airport partner in Lisbon, to support Portugal’s tourism recovery and to rebuild connectivity after the Covid pandemic. We now call on the Portuguese Government and the European Commission to intervene to free up these unused slots at Lisbon Portela Airport and to urgently open Lisbon Montijo Airport.”