Hearing requested by PS and PSD
The Portuguese Parliament on Wednesday approved the hearing of the chairman of TAP‘s board of directors, Manuel Beja, and the chairwoman of the company’s executive committee, Christine Ourmières-Widener, at the request of the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD).
The requests for the hearing of Manuel Beja and Christine Ourmières-Widener were unanimously approved by the Committee on economy, public works, planning and housing.
According to the request submitted on April 19 by PS for a hearing of the chairman and chief executive of TAP, it is “of the utmost convenience that parliament can monitor and analyse the company’s restructuring plan, in order to understand if there are any deviations and what goals have been achieved as well as future prospects”.
Stressing that TAP “is a strategic company for Portugal” and “its performance is essential in the pursuit of the country’s economic and strategic interests”, the socialists recall that “after the difficult years of the pandemic that caused serious impacts on the aviation industry worldwide, the Portuguese government has made major investments in TAP to ensure the continuity of the company”, investments that “have been framed in the restructuring plan of the Portuguese airline, approved in December 2021 by the Competition Authority”.
The PSD’s request, submitted on April 14, asked for an urgent parliamentary hearing of Christine Ourmières-Widener to explain the economic and financial situation of the company and its route options, namely in the north of the country.
In the document, the social democrats point out that the airline “has been accumulating negative results since 2018, a situation that worsened during the pandemic”, and justify the request for explanations because the support for TAP approved in 2021 in Brussels involves “an authorised state aid of €3.2 billion”, which they consider to be “a very expressive weight in the deployment of public resources”.
€1.6 billion loss in 2021
On the other hand, the PSD deputies note that TAP recorded “a loss of almost €1.6 billion in 2021, which is equivalent to around €4.3 million per day”, that the company was the main beneficiary of the furlough (temporary lay-off) aid granted by the state to companies during the pandemic and, according to recent news reports, “it will be hiring 250 crew members to meet the increase in demand expected for the summer, whom it had previously laid off as part of the restructuring”.
“The company has changed, in an incomprehensible way, the priority of its routes, namely from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, in Porto, eliminating some of the flights with obvious losses for the entire northern region”, criticises the PSD in the petition signed by deputies Paulo Rios de Oliveira, António Topa Gomes and Márcia Passos.
The PSD considers that “as the economic and financial situation of TAP is a matter of natural interest and concern for all Portuguese“, “the urgent appearance” of TAP’s chief executive officer before the parliamentary committee is justified.
According to the proposed state budget, the government maintains its plan to inject up to €990 million into TAP this year.
TAP posted a loss of almost €1.6 billion last year, despite an increase in the number of passengers carried and revenues over the previous year, the company said on Monday.
In the information sent to the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), the national air carrier explained that it had recorded non-recurring costs of 1.0249 billion euros – for example, with the closure of maintenance operations in Brazil – which had an impact on its results.