TAP buy-up: clear for take off

Despite all the bluster, the competitions authority has given the green light to the purchase of state airline TAP by Atlantic Gateway, the consortium led by Portuguese transport boss Humberto Pedroso and American-Brazilian airline mogul David Neeleman.

The next step now is for ANAC, the national civil aviation authority, to give its go-ahead and analyse ‘complaints’ by one of the losers in the process, Chilean airline boss German Efromovich, along with the “Peço a Palavra” citizens’ group that was against the privatisation of a public business from the start.

Meantime, TAP is getting stick in the press for spiralling tariffs and niggly small-print that makes travelling more irksome.

Disabled travellers, for example, still have to provide medical reports if they request wheelchair assistance – a stipulation not demanded by other airlines; and children now cost their parents dearly when travelling unaccompanied.

Observador website has highlighted the latter complaint, showing how previously three young siblings travelling unaccompanied would cost their parents €50, but since July – a month after TAP’s sale was announced – this price has skyrocketed to €300.

TAP refutes the criticism, saying: “there was no increase in the price of our service, which continues to be €50” explaining that “before, TAP charged by reservation – and in one reservation there could be various children”. But “accompanying one child, is not the same as accompanying various”, and now it has changed the terms even more by saying the €50 cost applies to journeys, not reservations.

A clever lesson in how to pull wool over people’s eyes as they are being charged double, treble or even more.

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