TAP has to sell non-essential maintenance, handling, catering businesses

  • Lusa
  • 22 December 2021

Brussels has not imposed "specific requirements" on potential buyers of the non-essential assets that TAP has to sell in the maintenance, catering and assistance businesses.

The European Commission has not imposed “specific requirements” on potential buyers of the non-essential assets that TAP has to sell in the maintenance, catering and assistance businesses, given the commitment made with Brussels, according to sources linked to the process.

“There are no specific requirements regarding the buyers of these assets to be sold,” the same sources told Lusa, a day after the EU executive approved TAP’s restructuring plan and €2.55 billion state aid, however imposing some ‘remedies’.

One of these commitments, which aims to avoid distorting competition, was precisely the separation of the TAP and Portugal businesses on the one hand and non-essential assets, namely in the maintenance business in Brazil, and the catering and ground handling (which is provided by Groundforce) businesses, which will have to be sold.

Asked about this commitment, an official source from the EU executive told Lusa that “TAP will have to sell or dispose of its stake in a number of non-essential assets […] to buyers yet to be determined in the course of the restructuring plan”.

“These measures are necessary to mitigate the distortions of competition created by the state aid,” the same official source added.

Quoted in the statement released on Tuesday, the executive vice-president of the European Commission with responsibility for competition, Margrethe Vestager, noted that “significant public support will come with safeguards to limit distortions of competition”, as TAP has committed for example to provide ‘slots’, slots that airlines can use to take off and land, at Lisbon airport, “where it has significant market power”.

“This gives competing carriers the opportunity to expand their activities at this airport, ensuring fair prices and more choice for European consumers,” said Vestager.

In addition, TAP is prohibited from making any acquisitions and will have to reduce its fleet until the end of the restructuring plan, rationalising the network and adjusting to forecasts that estimate that demand will not increase before 2023 due to the pandemic.