President calls on ‘Best possible solution’ for TAP
The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has called on the Government and shareholders to find “the best possible solution” for Portugal’s airline TAP.
The President made his comments when asked by the media if he thought the Government should nationalise the airline after round table talks yesterday failed to reach an agreement with the private investors from the Gateway Consortium.
It comes as TAP announced losses of €395 million for the first quarter of 2020 because of an over-hedge on jet fuel (€150.3 million) and a net loss of €70 million. It also means that compared to the first quarter of 2019 the airline has quadrupled its losses which had stood at €-22.6 million for Q1 2019.
“What matters is that a solution is found now that is the best possible one. I say possible because the airlines are all in a dramatic situation. The best possible solution for us is to continue to have a Portuguese TAP airline,” said the President.
“A Portuguese (airline) means that Portugal’s interests continue,” he said. “We will await the conclusion of negotiations. The President of the Republic should not comment on a process that is ongoing with several possible scenarios and we will await the final solution”.
Asked whether letting TAP go bankrupt was on the table, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was categorical in stating that: “It is certainly not an option that allows Portugal to have a company that safeguards Portuguese interests”.
“What matters now is to ensure that TAP serves Portugal and the Portuguese. I hope that’s the outcome of discussions now,” he added at hearing news that the Government is preparing to nationalise the airline.
Newspaper Expresso reported yesterday that the Portuguese State would move towards the option of nationalising TAP after the State failed to reach an agreement with private shareholders on the conditions for the injection of a €1.2Bn State rescue package.
The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Pedro Nuno Santos said at a hearing of the parliamentary committee on Economy, Public Works and Housing on Tuesday that: “TAP is too important for us to allow it to fold. Twelve hundred million euros is a lot of money, we have to carefully manage that money, which implies that we are able to leave TAP at a size that does not look like a little airline or ‘TAPzinha’ he said using a Portuguese diminutive.
Instead, he said it meant having an airline that is capable of being more sustainable and viable going forward.
Pedro Nuno Santos said: “If private shareholders do not accept the State’s conditions, we will have to nationalise the company. We are not going to give in to private demands, nor are we going to let the company go under”.