Union concerned about TAP flight management criteria

  • Lusa
  • 29 December 2020

Portugal's Civil Aviation Pilots Union (SPAC) said it was concerned about the criteria for managing TAP flights.

Portugal’s Civil Aviation Pilots Union (SPAC) on Tuesday said it was concerned about the criteria for managing TAP flights, which it said was causing losses by not operating profitable flights that historically have high occupancy rates.

According to the pilots’ representatives, by not operating these flights TAP is causing “obvious damage” to the company, with the consequent loss of revenue, use of aircraft and crews which are grounded, especially now that the company is no longer supported by the furlough scheme.

The union stressed that these revenues are vital to the airline at a time when thousands of workers are expected to be laid off due to TAP’s difficult economic situation.

“SPAC finds no justification for this commercial policy as there is now a market for passengers interested in these flights,” it said in the note.

According to the pilots’ union, which expects 500 members to be laid off, other airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss or easyJet are taking advantage of the fact that TAP is not operating those flights with several flights a day.

“These companies are operating, for example, from the city of Porto with high capacity aircraft, and have sometimes used long-haul aircraft to meet the growing demand from passengers,” SPAC said.

The union considered TAP’s flight management incomprehensible from a commercial and economic point of view.

“This commercial and management policy, with successive flight cancellations, has led passengers, even frequent ones, to lose confidence when booking their flight, leading them to opt for other companies with a consistent policy,” it added.

The union also reported that, on 19 December, the Swiss and easyJet airlines alone flew 12 flights from Porto to Zurich and Geneva, in Switzerland, where there is a significant community of Portuguese emigrants, mostly with high occupancy rates.

According to SPAC, Swiss even had to use Boeing 777 and Airbus 340-300 aircraft, with large capacity, to meet the high demand from the Portuguese communities at Christmas time.

“These flights from Zurich to Porto carried hundreds of passengers and the flight with the lowest number of passengers was easyJet with 155 passengers,” the union pointed out, while TAP did not operate a single flight between Porto and Zurich, despite the high demand shown, keeping its aircraft on the ground, as well as its pilots and other crew members.

TAP’s restructuring plan, delivered in Brussels this month, foresees the suspension of the company agreements, a measure without which, according to Pedro Nuno Santos, minister for infrastructure and housing, it would not be possible to restructure TAP.

TAP’s restructuring plan, submitted to the European Commission, foresees the dismissal of 500 pilots, 750 cabin crew, 450 maintenance and engineering workers and 250 from other areas.

The plan also provides for a 25% reduction in the group’s wage bill (30% in the case of corporate bodies) and in the number of aircraft in the company’s fleet from 108 to 88 commercial aircraft.