TAP fails to reach pilots agreement
Portuguese airline TAP has expressed regret that it has been unable to reach an agreement with its pilots.
The problem is that the TAP board, its unions claim, has refused to call employee meetings.
TAP said on Tuesday that it regretted not being able to arrive at an agreement with its pilots, but says it is committed to “finding solutions that will enable the airline to be sustainable for all its employees”.
The announcement was made on the same day that the Portuguese Union of Civil Aviation Pilots (SPAC) called a demonstration in Lisbon for pilots and staff that are laid off because of “injustices” and the company “riding roughshod” over their rights and conditions.
The demonstration began at 8.30am in Lisbon at the Areeiro Flight Crew Terminal (TTA) and ended at the TAP Campus.
According to Jornal Económico, the pilots’ union has accused the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, of siding with TAP’s management and says that is what drove the company to bankruptcy.
However, SPAC is not quite telling the entire truth. With the exception of one year, TAP has rarely, if ever, made a profit for at least two decades.
Despite the pronounced long-term growth of the aviation industry, TAP has suffered long-lasting liquidity/solvency problems, presenting, year after year, worrying financial statements. The inability of the airline to deliver sustainable results throughout decades led to its reprivatisation (2015) in the aftermath of the financial crisis that hit Portugal, only to be temporarily nationalised again when a major private investor withdrew.
The head of SPAC, Tiago Faria Lopes said: “This management is leading the company to the same fate as Flybe which went bankrupt and Pedro Nuno Santos is siding with this management and it can’t go on like this”.
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, collapsed into administration in 2020 with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs, less than two months after the government announced a rescue deal. However, it was a small internal airline and not a European and long-haul carrier.
TAP currently has around 6626 employees after shedding 1480 in a major shakeup and restructuring programme entailing cuts in aircraft, cuts to some routes and services, financial cuts, staff cuts, and cuts in salaries in a bid to slim down the airline and make it more sustainable. In 2020 its gross debt was €3.3Bn. Brussels said it would only allow the Portuguese government to inject around €2Bn of capital into the airline if it carried out the restructuring programme.