Ryanair has been forced to cancel thousands of flights from its summer schedule. The low-cost carrier axed the flights amid a legal dispute with Portuguese authorities over landing slots in the European country’s airports.

In the nation’s capital, Lisbon, the airline was forced to cut the number of aircraft it had based there almost in half. Those aircraft had been scheduled to operate around 5,000 flights this summer, which have all now been cancelled as a result.

The axing of the 19 routes, including ones from the UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham, is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of travellers.

Millions of tourism revenue lost

The legal issues revolve around the Portuguese state-owned airline TAP Air, which agreed to give up daily slots in return for government aid last year but has yet to reallocate them.

Ryanair subsequently commented that “TAP’s continued blocking of landing slots, which [it] cannot and will not use” is the reason behind their cancellations. They estimate the hit on the tourism economy to be around €250 million.

“Anti-competitive” and “to the detriment of the Lisbon economy” is how Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary specifically characterised the slot blockings.

The no-frills carrier followed on to say that despite repeated calls on the Portuguese government to reallocate the slots before the scheduled decision to do so in June 2022, it is yet to receive a response.

Full refunds to be offered

Mr O’Leary said his airline “deeply regrets the unnecessary disruption to passengers on these cancelled flights.”

According to reports, affected passengers are expected to receive emails to offer refunds or flight changes in the coming weeks.

Mr O’Leary finished by saying that his airline hopes still to introduce the 19 routes to Lisbon in October, in time for their winter schedule.

Have Portuguese authorities mistreated Ryanair? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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