Indebted airline TAP is preparing for a massive reduction of airplanes and employees – reducing numbers on the payroll as well as wages in 2021 and 2022.
The idea is to cut roughly 3,600 people from the 10,600-strong workforce and shed 17 planes.
Explain reports, the staff cuts will reduce salary payments by around €187.5 million per year, and convince Brussels that the €1.2 billion State ‘loan’ negotiated with the Portuguese government makes economic sense.
Different media sources are citing different numbers, but it’s looking like at least 1600 contracts will not be renewed while the company will shed around 500 pilots, 750 cabin crew and 750 ground staff.
The ‘restructuring plan’ isn’t yet ‘fully closed’. It has 10 days before it has to be presented to the European Commission – and in the meantime ‘management’ (led by the government which now has 72.5% stake in the airline) will be meeting with unions on Wednesday (December 2) at 10am.
While rejecting totally the need for so many dismissals, unions have stressed that the last thing on their minds is strike action as this would almost certainly work against them.
“This is what TAP wants, in order not to pay our salaries”, José Sousa secretary-general of Sitava – the syndicate of aviation and airport workers – told reporters over the weekend, describing the measures outlined so far as “stupid, provocative and unrealistic”.
Indeed, Sousa believes they will lead to the “end of TAP” which has been running at a crippling loss for years (now further accentuated, by another €582 million, due to plummeting of tourism and travel caused by the pandemic).
Cabin crew union SNPVAC is equally shocked by what it calls the “brutal cut in staff and salaries outlined”, saying its members will not accept such measures “peacefully”.
Back in the summer when the government was negotiating to up its stake in TAP in a bid to bail the airline out of trouble, PM António Costa likened a future restructuring plan to a ‘surgical operation’.
“No one tells the patient that it will go ahead without pain”, he said.