TAP returns to eye-watering losses

After managing to turn a profit in 2017 following the stop-start process of ‘privatisation’ (reversed at the last minute), Portuguese airline TAP is back to recording eye-watering losses.

But it’s not quite as bad as pundits predicted.

Back in February, doom-mongers were bandying about figures between €150 million and €180 million.

Jornal Económico called it a “tragedy” that would reflect badly on prime minister António Costa as he is trying to whip-up popularity ahead of elections in October (click here).

But this morning, the dismal bottom line is ‘better than expected’: €118 million.

And the airline itself is buoyant, confident that restructuring underway will fix problems and “not compromise the future”.

Talking in Lisbon, TAP CEO Antonaldo Neves explained that this future involves preparing for the company for the stock exchange.

Not now, but ‘when the timing is right’. “At the moment, the calendar is impossible to predict. What is the appetite of the market? We don’t know”, he said. “And what will be the percentage? We also don’t know”.

Interpreting these words seemingly with optimism, Observador online went on to reproduce large tracts of Neves’ speech, outlining the 17 new routes that the airline introduced over the last 18 months, the cost-cutting programme, the financial challenges (like the increasing cost of diesel and the cancelling of 2,490 flights that required the hiring of substitute planes and compensation payments to passengers) etc. etc., describing 2018 as the year in which TAP “decided to face reality as it is”. The airline “had a large deficit of service to its clients” and it “wasn’t among the companies (with the best position) in the ranking of the Star Alliance, but punctuality is improving, said Neves – and plans for 2019 include the hiring 500 extra staff.

Thus, bit by bit, the old joke about TAP standing for ‘Take Another Plane’ is fading into the middle distance and political fall-out predicted over today’s announcement has yet to make itself heard.

[email protected]