Government ready to accelerate sale of TAP
Cristina Carrilho, from the TAP workers' commission, gives parliament the benefit of a hypothetical question and answer session which suggests TAP's 'service to Portuguese nationals' will be given very short shrift by any new owners

Government ready to accelerate sale of TAP

Preparing new injection of capital to ‘assure sale’…. while syndicates threaten strike action

It’s all happening with Portugal’s ‘flagship airline’ TAP again. After last week’s dismal story of a fleet of new BMWs ‘cancelled’ due to public opinion, this week we hear that the government is ready to accelerate the airline’s reprivatisation and is preparing a new injection of capital in order to control 100% of the company and be able to assure the sale.

The update comes from TAP’s workers commission and syndicates which have been heard in parliament today – and are clearly far from optimistic.

It appears previously-tipped companies (Lufthansa, Air France/ KLM) are still in the running to purchase, as is North American fund Certares, held 40% by cruise company Douro Azul, owned by Portuguese businessman Mário Ferreira.

As SIC television news recalls, “the prime minister António Costa has already admitted that the State could lose money with the deal, due to the de-valuation of the airline as a result of the effects of the pandemic”.

Taxpayers have already been called on to bail TAP out to the tune of €3.2 billion. In the eyes of many, it is one of the ‘greatest scandals’ of the time – the fact that the country has had no choice in either renationalising TAP, or in re-privatising it. Both situations have been described as ‘vital’ by PS Socialists, at different moments since 2015.

But TAP workers have other concerns. What will actually become of the company once it is sold?

TAP’s ethos has always been that it is the airline for the Portuguese; for emigrés who want to ‘come home’ (and return to their adopted countries); for nationals who want to visit other Portuguese-speaking territories, and for those territories to be able to reach Europe.

But will a new owner be so interested in these niceties? 

Cristina Carrilho, of the TAP workers’ commission, thinks not. She gave parliament the benefit of a hypothetical question and answer session: “If TAP doesn’t exist, there are other airlines. Well, wait a minute, what are the routes? To Pico (Azores)? ‘This is very expensive, it doesn’t give a profit’. What about Terceira island? ‘No, because it is expensive, we only have clients in the summer, there is no point keeping that route’? What?! We want to bring Portuguese people from Switzerland there. ‘No, you can only do that at Christmas and in the summer’…”

And so it goes on.

Says SIC, “the syndicates say they have no political ideology but they also cannot see anything good coming in the future. And they go further and threaten to paralyse the operations of the company”.

Ricardo Penarroias of SNPVAC (the national syndicate of civil aviation personnel) told MPs this afternoon: “I am not afraid of words. We are well on our way to actions by the end of the year the consequences of which we have no idea. If the word you want to hear is the possibility of a strike, then it is very likely that there could be a strike within the TAP group”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com