Christine Ourmières-Widener describes damages that she continues to suffer. Image: João Relvas/ Lusa
Christine Ourmières-Widener describes damages that she continues to suffer. Image: João Relvas/ Lusa

‘No decision will compensate for reputational damage’ – former TAP CEO

Christine Ourmières-Widener hopes “the truth is restored”

Claiming almost €6 million for unfair dismissal, ousted TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener has said that any decision by the courts “will not erase the damage caused to her”. 

In a written statement to Lusa news agency, the former CEO said “no-one should have to go through what I did, either personally or professionally (…), stressing that “it wasn’t me who sought the position of CEO of TAP. It was the government that invited me. It invited an international manager with a rising career, guaranteed the payment of a bonus that was decisive for my acceptance and decision to move my entire family to Portugal, signed a contract for 5 years, which was abruptly and unjustifiably interrupted

“I hope the truth is restored. Unfortunately, any decision that is taken will not be able to fully repair the enormous reputational and personal damage that I have suffered and continue to suffer“, she said.

Christine Ourmières-Widener reiterated that she had “always acted with total transparency” and in “good faith” when leading the airline, and recalled financial results “never achieved before”.

“I believe in justice, both in Portugal and abroad. I have remained silent out of respect for TAP and its workers, so I once again regret the government’s public reaction to the process,” she said.

This public reaction came yesterday following the Council of Ministers when minister of the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva said the government was “very comfortable” with Christine Ourmières-Widener’s dismissal, arguing that the report that supported the decision was unequivocal.

“The government made a decision based on a report (undertaken by the IGF, General Inspectorate of Finance) that is absolutely unequivocal, and that is why we are very comfortable with the decision taken,” she emphasised.

While the secretary general of the pilots’ union has described his shock at the amount of money sought by Ms Ourmières-Widener, Ricardo Penarroias, president of SNPVAC, the National Union of Civil Aviation Flight Personnel, has said he is not surprised at all.

“The concern I have, as a union leader and as a TAP group worker, is that the decision (to dismiss Ms ourmières-Widener)was the right one and that it wasn’t another act of management, another act of impulsiveness, which only harms the company,” he told Lusa.

The government announced the dismissal of Christine Ourmières-Widener and chairman of the board, Manuel Beja, on live television on March 6, following release of the results of the IGF audit, which concluded that a €500,000 golden handshake paid to an outgoing director was null and void and that a large part of it would have to be returned.

The controversy began at the end of December last year and reverberated for months, seeing multiple reisngations, including that of the then minister for infrastructures.

Source material: LUSA