Christine Ourmières-Widener in the days when she was answering questions in parliament. Image by António Cotrim/ Lusa

TAP in yet another ‘oh so embarrassing scandal’

Accused of hiring CEO’s ‘personal friend’ on monthly salary of €15,000 

TAP and its French CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener are back in the headlines today, over another ludicrously embarrassing ‘scandal’.

The company is accused of hiring “a friend” of its president (Ms Ourmières-Widener) on a whopping monthly salary of €15,000.

Remember, this is the loss-making ‘flagship airline’ costing taxpayers, whether they like it or not, an ‘arm and a leg’ financially (around €3.2 billion).

It is the airline that the PS government said was too important for the national economy not to renationalise, and now says its only hope, after years of mind- blowing losses, is to be reprivatised.

The manic merry-go-round of bad press has dogged TAP all through the summer and into the autumn, and now this absolute lulu of a story: it’s not just that civil engineer Isabel Nicolau Silva is a friend of Ms Ourmières-Widener; she is the partner of Ms Ourmières-Widener’s husband’s personal trainer.

In describing her thus, an element of swinging Big Brother has entered the mix. Following on from the ‘scandal’ of TAP’s decision to furnish its top brass with almost 80 plug-in BMWs, the management of TAP appears to be bungee jumping in flourescent lycra from the sublime to the ridiculous.

According to all the media reports, Isabel Nicolau Silva has never before worked in the aviation sector. Nonetheless, her new role sees her as director of the department of continuous improvement and sustainability (a title that smacks of China cosying up to the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland).

Again, according to reports, TAP has insisted that Ms Nicolau Silva was ‘the best option’ among candidates for the job. Her previous role was financial director of her partner’s ‘wellness clinic’.

ECO online, among others, takes the story even further. It suggests a month before Ms Nicolau Silva took up her well paid role, her partner opened a non-profit with Ms Ourmières-Widener’s husband. Essentially, the ‘incompatibilities scandal’ in national politics seems to have spilled over into TAP in a blur of arrant nonsense.

How could all the candidates for TAP’s top job at the department of continuous improvement never have worked in the airline sector? One of them must have. Or to be in charge of continuous improvement at an airline, TAP’s HR doesn’t believe it is necessary to have any knowledge of the aviation industry? 

For syndicates, this is looking like the ‘the (last) drop of water’ before the dam breaks asunder.

SPAC, pilot’s union, representative Tiago Faria Lopes says it is time prime minister António Costa “assumes his responsibilities” and ends “once and for all” these management decisions damaging the public purse.

So far, not a peep from Mr Costa…

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