The tender for access to the 18 daily slots that TAP will give up at Lisbon airport, following the European Commission’s requirement to endorse its restructuring plan, began on Friday and a decision is expected to be made in June.
The information was provided to Lusa by German consultant Alcis, appointed by Brussels to oversee implementation of the commitments made by Portugal and the TAP group, which in a statement said it had “published an invitation to tender” for the “transfer, free of charge, of up to 18 daily slots at Lisbon airport to another airline”.
“Airlines are invited to express their interest […] and submit their proposals within the established deadlines,” Alcis points out, adding that “the airline will be selected by the European Commission, following a transparent and non-discriminatory procedure.”
The deadline to submit bids of interest ends on March 24, followed by a communication of the list of airlines that have done so until April 25, and then May 12 is the final date for official submission of proposals.
“They are requested […] to submit full proposals, including a detailed business plan and the list of slots chosen from the list provided by TAP Air Portugal.”
It is expected that, in the week of June 13, the European Commission will release the decision on the evaluation of the proposals and that, on July 25, the slot transfer agreement will be signed, for the start of the operation on October 30.
“In the event that it is not possible to select” a carrier or “it is not possible to sign a slot transfer agreement following the procedure described above, a new invitation to tender will be published”, it is said.
At issue is the endorsement given by the European Commission last December 21 to TAP’s restructuring plan and state aid of €2.55 billion to allow the group to return to viability.
Among the demands imposed by Brussels to approve the restructuring plan is the obligation for the airline to provide up to 18 slots per day at Lisbon airport.
This month, an official source from the European Commission told Lusa that the airlines competing for the 18 daily slots that TAP will give up at Lisbon airport must present “credible proposals from an economic and operational point of view and with regard to European competition law”.
Among the requirements to be eligible to receive such slots is also the fact that “the airline must have an operating licence issued by a member state of the EU/EEA [European Union and European Economic Area], be independent and not be linked to TAP,” the same source told Lusa.
In addition, the competitor “cannot […] have been the target of a recapitalisation facility due to Covid-19 of more than €250 million” and must “commit to operating a base at Lisbon airport until 2025”, the deadline until which TAP is under restructuring.