Indemnity requested is double that initially touted
Ousted TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener has filed a civil suit against the airline for unfair dismissal – demanding nearly €6 million in damages’ compensation.
The information came on last night’s evening news, and is double that of the amount originally touted (and at the time decried as ‘exorbitant’).
According to information, the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday and distributed to Judge 3 of Lisbon’s Central Civil Court, naming companies TAP SGPS and TAP S.A. as defendants.
Both companies are, at this time, State owned. The government is nonetheless in the throes of trying to sell TAP, thus a lawsuit of this calibre is not going to give any kind of ‘pull factor’.
Tabloid Correio da Manhã says that, as far as it can understand, the compensation amount set refers to “salaries and management bonuses” Ms Ourmières-Widener would have received had she remained at her post until 2026 (roughly €4 million), plus a further €1.94 million for reputational and moral damages.
As previous reports have stressed, Ms Ourmières-Widener believes she was used by the government as a scapegoat in a political battle following various scandals rocking TAP’s reputation – not least the golden handshake handed to a former director (who has since been instructed to hand a great deal of it back).
Lusa news agency has “asked TAP and the ministries of infrastructure and finance for comment. The finance ministry, led by Fernando Medina, has already replied that it will not comment, and Lusa is awaiting replies from the airline and João Galamba’s ministry.
“The former CEO of the airline said on April 4, at the hearing of the parliamentary commission of enquiry into the political oversight of TAP’s management, that she had to recover the honour and reputation of 30 years in the aviation industry and that she refused to resign, as suggested in a meeting with Medina, because she had done nothing wrong.
“March 6th was the worst day of my life, so yes, I will try to repair my honour, with the global reputation I have in this industry,” Christine Ourmières-Widener told the televised hearing.
“Having two ministers sack me with just cause is ruining my reputation, in front of my family, my children and my friends. I have to do it.”
The government announced the dismissal of Christine Ourmières-Widener and the chairman of the board of directors, Manuel Beja, on 6 March on live television, following the results of an audit by the Inspectorate-General of Finance (IGF) which concluded that the agreement for the departure of former TAP director Alexandra Reis was null and void and that a large part of the compensation (close to half a million euros) would have to be returned, Lusa continues.
The general meeting of TAP’s shareholders on April 12 concluded the dismissal process and decided that the new chairman, Luís Rodrigues, would take office on April 14.
The controversy began at the end of December 2022, when the Correio da Manhã newspaper reported that former TAP director Alexandra Reis, then secretary of state for the Treasury had received compensation of around €500,000 to leave the company’s board two years ahead of schedule, only to be offered two plum postings sanctioned by the government.
The compensation process was negotiated under the commercial companies law, when TAP, as a State-owned company, is covered by the public manager’s statute.
The subsequent public outcry prompted a reshuffle in the government, including the departure of the former minister for infrastructure and housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, and his secretary of State Hugo Mendes.