After all the to-ing and fro-ing, and all the uncertainty, the TAP privatisation deal with Atlantic Gateway was approved yesterday in the absolute nick of time.
According to reports in the Portuguese media, the outgoing government decided to push the sale through on the understanding that buyers Humberto Pedrosa and David Neeleman injected €150 million straight away. Without that money, TAP would have been incapable of paying salaries still due for October, claims national tabloid Correio da Manhã. It would not have had the money to pay the parking dues for its planes in Lisbon, or to fill its fleet with fuel, adds the paper – quoting Marques Guedes speaking at yesterday’s Council of Ministers as saying: “The situation of TAP is of imminent financial collapse. There is the effective risk of planes remaining grounded.”
Thus a new chapter in the airline that flies to 81 destinations in 35 countries has begun.
An appeal by the Socialists for the privatisation to be reviewed fell flat, and yesterday no-one in the PS reacted to the news after the sale went ahead ‘behind closed doors’ in Lisbon.
As CM explains, the deal secures staff salaries and positions for a period of three years and should see Atlantic Gateway injecting as many as €600 million into the trouble-torn airline by 2017.
During one of his visits to Portugal over the 61% purchase of TAP during the summer, Brazilian airline boss David Neeleman suggested his consortium’s investment could even reach €800 million.