New government wants 51% of TAP – not the 39% agreed by centre-right

Despite the fact that TAP has already spent half the €180 million ploughed into it by new ‘owners’ Gateway Consortium, the Socialist government has made good its pre-election pledge to reverse the deal by initiating negotiations aimed at wrestling back majority State control.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, minister for planning and infrastructures Pedro Marques said he hoped the process would be completed “as quickly as possible so that TAP could have stability and continue to grow”.

Newspapers following this latest bend in the tortuous saga suggest talks are unlikely to reach any kind of consensus before the beginning of next year.

Marques also refused to be led on comments by TAP executive president Fernando Pinto, who told a tourism and travel conference in Albufeira last week: “I don’t know how the privatisation can be reversed. €180 million has entered (the company) and I have spent half.

“I understand the political basis,” he added. “But what one would like is one thing, and what is possible is another. I looked for 15 years for someone to invest in TAP… We have to hope for a political solution that suits everyone.”

Nevertheless, Marques claims the government is sticking to its guns, “determined to recover the majority of TAP’s capital for the State”.

“TAP is a strategic business for Portugal,” he stressed, saying its importance was imperative for the economic development of the country and its relationship with Portuguese-speaking countries.

The privatisation deal was pushed through by the minority centre-right coalition government just days before President of the Republic Cavaco Silva conceded power to the Socialists under António Costa.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com