Government agrees not to sell TAP assets ‘on the cheap’ – Union

  • Lusa
  • 4 January 2022

STHA recognises that the approval of the company's restructuring plan "is positive", even if only the "brief version of the approval" is known.

The Airport Handling Technicians Trade Union (STHA) said on Tuesday that the government had informed it that sales of TAP subsidiaries included in the restructuring plan would not be made “on the cheap or in a hurry,” according to a statement.

In the statement, the union said the “Portuguese government has informed the STHA that these sales will be made when normal market conditions are met (meaning, at least outside the pandemic), which means that none of the TAP group companies will be sold either off the peg or in a hurry.

At stake is the disposal of non-core assets such as subsidiaries in adjacent activities of maintenance (in Brazil) and catering (Cateringpor), and ground handling (which is provided by Groundforce).

“The Portuguese government delivered, on 10 December 2020, the TAP Restructuring Plan for approval by the European Commission,” reads the same note, which stresses that there was “no participation of the trade unions”.

“As a corollary, we have – unfortunately – the departure of almost 3,000 TAP workers (between fixed-term contract and permanent staff),” lamented the STHA, pointing out “in four years – a ‘saving’ of €1.4 billion with the workers”, while in the same period there was a saving of “just over €400 million in supplies and external services”.

However, the union acknowledges that the “approval of the Restructuring Plan by the European Commission (EC) is positive. However, we only know the brief version of the approval that can be read in the press release issued by the EC, which is why it has not” expressed an opinion, nor will it do so “until the complete paper of the approval is made public, which will certainly be much more than three pages long, explaining theme by theme, line by line, everything that involves such approval”, it stated.

The European Commission said on 21 December that it had approved TAP’s restructuring plan and state aid of €2.55 billion, requiring the airline to provide up to 18 slots per day at Lisbon airport.

“Following its in-depth investigation and comments from stakeholders and Portugal the Commission has approved the proposed restructuring plan,” the EU executive said in a statement, specifying that “the support plan will take the form of €2.55 billion of equity or quasi-equity measures, including the conversion of the €1.2 billion rescue loan into equity.”

The plan “sets out a package of measures to rationalise TAP’s operations and reduce costs”, namely the division of activities between, on the one hand, TAP Air Portugal and Portugalia (which will be supported and restructured), and on the other hand the disposal of “non-core assets” such as subsidiaries in adjacent activities of maintenance (in Brazil) and catering and ground handling” (Groundforce).

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