‘Private shareholders committed to TAP’, Neeleman thanks state

  • Lusa
  • 29 June 2020

"We are also available to capitalise on our claims on the company at the time of approval of the restructuring plan to be negotiated with the European Commission," says Neeleman.

Flag-carrier TAP shareholder David Neeleman on Monday guaranteed the “commitment of the private sector” to the future of the company, thanking the Portuguese state “very much” for its emergency loan and affirming his acceptance of the state’s immediate entry in the company’s Executive Committee.

“Although this was not our proposal, we are very grateful for the support of the Portuguese state through an emergency loan to TAP and we obviously accept the measures to control the use of this loan”, said Neeleman in a written statement sent to Lusa.

After “months of silence”, Neeleman justified this position with the need to “reject the statements on the commitment of the private sector to the future of TAP”, ensuring that they are “ready to accept the state’s participation in the Executive Committee immediately and even before any capitalisation of the loan.”

“We are also available to capitalise on our claims on the company at the time of approval of the restructuring plan to be negotiated with the European Commission,” he adds.

In the note sent to Lusa, Neeleman says he had “opted for silence in recent months because he is focused on helping TAP’s Executive Committee work out solutions at this very complex stage regarding TAP’s future”.

“However, because there are limits, I can only reject statements about the commitment of private individuals to the future of TAP,” he said.

“Our commitment – he says – is the same as in 2015, when we won privatisation and saved TAP from insolvency, and after five years of very hard work we transformed TAP into a renewed, larger and future-proof company. We continue to believe in TAP despite this huge crisis that has affected the whole economy and in particular the aviation sector”.

According to David Neeleman – who with Humberto Pedrosa, through Atlantic Gateway, owns 45% of TAP – “since the beginning of the crisis the executive team has been working night and day together with suppliers, negotiating and obtaining important support in the order of hundreds of millions of euros.”

“Our focus is not only to ensure that TAP survives, but that it recovers the growth route it has been following and that it thrives so that we can look after our workers and clients,” he added.

Neeleman recalled that TAP needs “the help of the Portuguese state” just like “all the other airlines in Europe” and stated that “all the investment made by the state” in the company “has a guaranteed return, multiplied many times”.

This is in addition to “a significant impact on the Portuguese economy, both for the economic stability” of the company’s workers and its “value chain of Portuguese suppliers and partners,” and for the “millions of visitors” it transports to Portugal every year.

“TAP is very important for the country and I’m sure that the Portuguese government will be able to respect the commitments it has made to those who believed in and transformed the company,” he said.

Last Tuesday, TAP’s executive president, Antonoaldo Neves, admitted that the carrier’s Executive Committee was willing to accept a member nominated by the state, which is currently only present on the Board of Directors.

Antonoaldo Neves, who was speaking at the Parliamentary Committee on Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing, in Lisbon, stressed that he did not see “any problem” that the state, as a shareholder of TAP, is also represented on the Executive Committee, even considering a “productive” option.

On 10 June, the European Commission approved “Portuguese emergency aid” for the airline TAP, state support of €1.2 billion to meet “immediate liquidity needs” with predetermined conditions for its reimbursement.