President hopeful claims TAP-Air Portugal problems “all an elaborate plot”

Paulo Morais, the PSD renegade who is running for Portugal’s presidency on an “anti-corruption” pledge has hit out at what he suggests is an elaborate plot to reduce TAP-Air Portugal to a rock-bottom value, before it is handed over to “powerful friends”.

Speaking out in his weekly column “Fio do Prumo” this weekend, Morais claims the plot is being orchestrated by people in government and the unions.

And he says now is the time for the “intervention of the only entity with necessary powers”: the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva.

Cavaco should “anull” the tortuous privatisation process – which as national media has been reporting, promises to raise nothing for the country – and ask the Attorney General to investigate what he calls “this association between people in government and unionists” which together has managed to reduce TAP’s value by “many millions”.

As Morais points out at the start of his diatribe, “only a year ago, TAP was presenting profits of €34 million”.

These have been systematically reduced by “flight cancellations and a proliferation of strikes and threats”.

Anyone who wanted to destroy the airline “would not do any different” to that which the government has done.

Not only is the current pilots’ strike “useless”, serving only to reduce TAP’s value further, the negotiations between TAP’s administration and the pilots syndicate SPAC have been “nothing but theatre”.

Morais claims that the “pretend negotiations” had two clear objectives: “to devalue TAP and guarantee business for SPAC”, who, with this latest strike – due to end tomorrow (Sunday) “have become the closest ally for the executive in its privatisation strategy of delivering TAP, as cheaply as possible, into the hands of powerful friends”.

As he explained, the pilots’ main beef – that they want 20% of TAP capital in the event of privatisation – means nothing, as the company is worth “zero”.

“20% is worth… nothing”, he writes.

Intriguingly, these allegations published in today’s Correio da Manhã, follow previous rumblings in national media over how much SPAC has made from the strike (an alleged €170,000) – and how the syndicate actually hired a consultancy firm to “handle negotiations”.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Cavaco Silva takes up Morais’ challenge.

Morais is not the only presidential candidate who has affirmed that, if he gets elected (in 2016), he will do everything very differently to the way things are done today.

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