Intention to reprivatise TAP already given to the market

  • Lusa
  • 14 December 2022

The minister Pedro Nuno Santos stated that the intention to reprivatise TAP "has already been signalled to the market."

Portugal’s infrastructure minister said on Wednesday that the intention to reprivatise TAP “has already been signalled to the market,” although there have been no talks “on the part of the government” with potential buyers.

“There is an intention by the government to open up the company’s capital and this intention has already been signalled to the market,” said the minister for infrastructure and housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, during a hearing in parliament, in response to questions from Liberal Initiative Party (IL) MP Carlos Guimarães Pinto.

Earlier, the MP had asked the minister if talks were underway with potential buyers of TAP, to which Pedro Nuno Santos replied, “not on the government’s part”.

Guimarães Pinto also asked whether the future buyer of TAP would benefit from a tax rule approved for 2023, which allows the future deduction of “close to 4 billion euros of past losses”, which according to the MP would allow the buyer to pay “very little corporate income tax over the next 30 years”.

“That was a norm that was voted in parliament, I don’t know if IL is against it, I imagine it is in favour, it applies to all companies,” the minister replied.

Regarding labour conflicts in the company, whose crew members recently held a two-day strike, which led to the cancellation of 360 flights, the minister of infrastructure said that “meetings have already been scheduled between the unions and the management” to continue negotiations, but recalled that there are emergency agreements signed as part of the restructuring plan, “which have to be fulfilled”.

In relation to the end of the contract with White Airways and the use of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) service contracts with foreign companies, Pedro Nuno Santos said that the “contract ended because TAP understood that it was not good for the company and found a better solution”.

“We have to have some confidence and not be, systematically, taking shots at a management that is doing a very difficult job to save an airline that was on the floor,” defended the minister, recalling that the operating results rose 214% in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period of 2019.

Explaining that the €3.2 billion injected into TAP were not a loan and, in this sense, do not have to be returned, Pedro Nuno Santos stressed that the airline ” will give back to the Portuguese State in various ways,” namely with the distribution of dividends, as soon as it begins to make a profit.

“I’m putting my money on TAP making a net profit before 2025,” the minister said, thus anticipating the target set out in the restructuring plan approved by the European Commission.

Finally, in relation to the hiring of Isabel Nicolau as director of continuous improvement and sustainability of the airline, with a close personal relationship with the executive chairman, Christine Ourmières-Widener, Pedro Nuno Santos said he did not know “who Isabel Nicolau is” and asked the IL MP if “he wants the minister to interfere in the day-to-day management” of the company.