easyJet will operate 27 new routes in the summer from Portugal, some in the ‘slots’ it won from TAP in Lisbon, a “momentary opportunity”. In the coming years, the company admits “limited growth” in the country.
“For customers, what matters is more connectivity, more choice and great prices and, therefore, we are really happy to have 27 new routes that we are launching for the next summer season” from Portugal, he announced in an interview with the agency. easyJet director for the European market, Thomas Haagensen.
Among these routes for the summer aviation season, which begins next Sunday, are new direct connections between Lisbon and Bastia (Corsica), Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Barcelona, Birmingham, among others, as well as from Porto to Funchal or to Porto Santo.
“In the past, there was no direct connection to places like Bastia or Menorca, for example, […] therefore, we are very satisfied with this expansion”, observed Thomas Haagensen, qualifying Portugal as “an important market” and “a great destination for customers in Europe”, namely France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Some of these new routes will be operated in the 18 daily ‘slots’ of TAP at Lisbon airport that the European Commission assigned to easyJet after imposition to approve the flagship airline’s restructuring plan.
“Having these 18 additional ‘slots’ has helped us to consolidate this position, but it’s not just about being the second airline, it’s also about improving our customers’ experience when moving from terminal two [do aeroporto de Lisboa] for terminal one, which is an important step for us”, said Thomas Haagensen.
Asked about the financial results of this additional operation in Lisbon of the 18 ‘slots’ that belonged to TAP, which started last November, Thomas Haagensen said it was “too early” to assess.
“The demand exists and we are satisfied because the operation is proceeding according to expectations, but it is extremely early” to analyze it, said the person in charge.
At issue is the endorsement given by the European Commission, in December 2021, to TAP’s restructuring plan and state aid of 2,550 million euros to allow the group to return to viability, imposing commitments to this end so as not to harm European competition, which led to the sale of these 18 slots in June 2022.
Despite this expansion, the director of easyJet in Portugal, José Lopes, qualified this as “a momentary opportunity” that will only be repeated if “other competitors lose slots” in Lisbon or Porto.
If this does not happen, and given the restrictions on the infrastructure of these two largest airports in the country, “it is likely that, in the coming years, growth in Portugal will be quite limited”, admitted José Lopes, also in an interview with Lusa.
“We will not see this amount of growth again unless there is another one in terms of infrastructure or the reorganization of airspace that allows for more capacity,” he said.
The British low-cost airline is present in 37 European countries and 150 airports, where it operates more than 1,000 routes with 320 aircraft throughout Europe, with a total of almost 14,000 employees across the network and 69.7 million of passengers transported in 2022.
easyJet arrived in Portugal in 1998, where today it has more than 830 employees and three bases (in Lisbon, Porto and Faro) to operate 89 routes with more than 30 planes (19 of which are based in the country), being the second airline with greater presence in the country, with a total of 7.4 million passengers transported in 2022.
In all, easyJet has an availability of 11.2 million seats to and from Portugal.