easyJet has been present in the Portuguese market for over two decades. José Lopes, director general of low cost The company wants in Portugal, assume that it is going to fight for TAP slots, it will have to give in the number of the company approved in Brussels.
easyJet is one of the main companies operating in Portugal. What is missing? Fly to the Azores and have a base there?
It has been working for many years in this market, identified as a country that allows easyJet to grow strategically. It is one of the markets that they identified in Europe as ideal to continue to grow and develop new opportunities. That’s what we’re going to continue to do. What are we missing? First, this pandemic needs to pass. easyJet’s strength has been key to us being able to build a continuous financial platform to enable us to capture new opportunities. Portugal is one of the opportunities we have to invest and grow at a time when demand is not yet at pre-pandemic levels. We are positioned to initiate market growth capacity when we come to look – which we anticipate from 2023 onwards – placing easyJet in Portugal, positioning the most solid way to capture the market.
In what way?
We have forecast for this year – which we started in October – a growth of around 8%. This growth will be more accentuated in Porto, where there are opportunities because there is now an additional capacity in the infrastructure, and this will allow us to grow around 25% in our fiscal year at that airport. In Madeira, in Funchal, we will be able to grow by 32%, making a commitment to continue to do so in the domestic sector. The country is at two speeds: we have Porto and Funchal already reacting in terms of capacity and that we are already positioned in a more positive way compared to pre-pandemic levels. And then Lisbon, which is currently in the resumption phase of some reform.
Let’s look at this first half. How is the search?
If we are in the phase of talking about our first semester, which is October, we are still going up to capacity but without an equal reaction to demand. in our first summer quarter – April, May and June – we are already starting to see a renewal. We hope that an alternative does not emerge from our fiscal year, that we will wait for the second quarter of our fiscal year, that we will wait for the second a similar demand to pre-pandemic levels, of 2019.
Are the Azores out of the plans?
At the moment, the Azores are not connected, because those that take us to the exit remain.
Cancel to the current variant, did you have to cancel a lot of flights?
In Portugal in our network in general, we have problems with not having to cancel flights by our crew. fortunately, a way in which the operation has allowed us to have flexibility and agility so that our difficulties are not adopted by these operational difficulties. So far no cancellations have been made for this reason.
There were 38 airlines per passengers without negative tests for covid. How much has easyJet already paid?
They were not fined by the SEF or other police entities. These documents are sent to the ANAC, which will then cross-check the information with the combinations of two check pairs to see what the two alternatives are. We’re possibly talking about situations where patients have resembled fake tests – and it’s just the passenger’s responsibility. Or complications, as there were many in England, of passengers who presented self-test certificates that were valid in England and that were not accepted as valid, because they were not certified in the way Portugal required. The studies that will also present some margin for not being considered as valid these fines because they would present a test for certification that was not positive.
So did you get it?
At this time, I have no indication of fines. It is a process that we will still have time to carry out in concrete and continue to monitor.
TAP entered the legislation campaign. And according to the education plan, it will have to give 18 slots and other measures. Do you expect the Commission to be tougher?
easyJet does not object to the existence of State aid. As they must exist for anomalous situations and we are facing the biggest aid crisis without the State and facing the biggest crisis. Logically, State provocations provoke help in the market. It is also normal when you allow aids to these to be made on the market.
Like the assignment of slots.
In this case, the assignment of slots. It was a process that we followed, in which we followed several weeks with the Commission and that we would continue to continue. Only one note from the Commission has yet been published. The full report on what was approved has not yet been published and the rules for accessing these possible slots have not yet been published. We are waiting, as both the government and the government know that easyJet is interested in growing in Lisbon.
submit exercises Are you going to stick with these slots?
When there is, we will present our business plan to try to win these slots and grow in Lisbon, presenting a model that rewards users.
And with what we know about the approved plan, do we like it or not with a little TAP?
As far as I know, what I can say is that easyJet can, if it manages to get slots allocated, grow a little more in Lisbon, based on three planes, create even more jobs in Portugal – at least around 100 more direct jobs these planes [em Lisboa]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our other concern is to continue to grow in Portugal and we will finally be able to grow in Lisbon in this window of opportunity, because we don’t know when it will exist.
If easyJet takes the slots, what does that mean for tourism?
If we are, in principle, talking about 18, which will be able to fulfill a realization of three slots. Each base normally does three rotations, so we’re talking about 18 flights a day that would be retrieved. The impact on tourism is enormous, especially since easyJet is a company that, in addition to this labor issue – we generate local employment with the rules that exist in Portugal -, transports passengers point to point. Point-to-point passengers are the ones that have a positive impact on tourism. They are passengers who come from the center of Europe and disembark in Portugal, go to our hotels, come to the restaurants, use the means of transport and make the economy move.
One of the issues that will mark is an airport solution for Lisbon. Is it possible to increase capacity in Portela?
It can be increased through the investment made by ANA and NAV. The main problem today is airspace, not just infrastructure. At the level of infrastructure, which is what would be easiest to implement, something has already started to be done. One of the quick exits has already been carried out, its first phase is complete. ANA should accelerate this investment process. the time of the pandemic was not used to accelerate investments in infrastructure at ground level by ANA or air by NAV. Had we hit it, these developments in this period of the pandemic would have had less of an impact on the consumer. This investment should be accelerated, completing the second phase of the fast exits, the extension of the Lisbon taxiway. Then, the important part that has to do with the airspace: reducing the distances that it is possible to implement approaches with a more modern instrument that allows going up and down more vertically so that there is a lesser impact on the city’s population. They could be approximations that cause some mitigation of the impact that exists in the populations that live around an airport. All these investments have to increase because the solution that the government may adopt will take time. After the small windows of opportunity that we have to bring something, Lisbon will again stagnate and will only be able to grow again in the second half of the 2030s.
Of the three options, which is best for easyJet?
Depends on optics. From an economic and temporal perspective, the dual option with Montijo is the best, because it is the least onerous for the country in terms of costs. In terms of time it will be a faster implementation. The one that presents a possibility of a root solution, in the future, is Alcochete.
For easyJet, which is the best?
We will adapt to anyone. Of course, if we are told that the cost of building the airport will be 100% passed on to the operators, we will defend a less costly solution. On the other hand, we are also in a difficult situation; easyJet, in the same way that it has been operating in Portugal for more than two decades, wants to continue operating in Portugal for the next three, four or five decades, so a solution that will be stagnant for some time is not good for us at all future. As we can adapt to each of the situations, we put ourselves in a neutral position.
Minister Pedro Nuno Santos has different here that Ryanair are not easy business models for TAP because they have different models here. For easyJet, is TAP a competitor or not?
For easyJet, TAP is our main competitor. We are in direct competition with TAP on all the routes we operate.
On European routes.
On short and medium-haul European routes and also on domestic ones. Undoubtedly, TAP is our main competitor because TAP not only sells long haul, it also sells point-to-point – it has weight because, let’s face it, TAP at European level is more of a company than easyJet. easyJet, at the moment, in terms of capacity, is the second European airline at an individual level – if we don’t associate the various groups, TAP is a very small airline at a European level, by comparison…
With a Lufthansa.
Exactly. If we look at the Portuguese market, Portugal does not generate passengers; only 25% of passengers on such transport in the country are generated in Portugal – including domestic passengers. Therefore, 7% of the passengers that fly are generated in other countries. It is important for us to win, to make Portugal known, to be strong in these markets. easyJet is the number 1 airline in the UK, it is the number 1 airline in Switzerland, it is the number 2 airline in France. This European dimension in the outbound markets that generate children is very important and this has allowed us to grow and have a greater penetration than, for example, all our competitors in the country.
What do you expect to face from the new government?
Firstly, Lisbon airport can start to grow already – we should have started this years ago, regardless of the decision of the new airport. Second, go with the new airport decision. We have to create a consensus. Another point that I believe is important to review once this issue of fines is set for airlines. This legislation should be repealed. We think that the next government, the same or another party, should review, looking at the numbers in a clear and evident way and based only on the facts; because if you do, that law will be repealed, because it makes no sense.
Was this request made?
On an individual or collective level?
An individual level was made and it was made together by various combinations of a level that operate in Portugal.