Lufthansa and Air France-KLM could be in yet another dispute over control of a major European airline. After submitting proposals by ITA Airways, the two groups are cited as favorites in the reprivatization of TAP Air Portugal, says the newspaper Expresso.
According to the outlet, the government of Portugal intends to accelerate the sale of the carrier in order to complete the process in the first half of 2023.
The IAG Group, owner of British Airways and Iberia, would have shown interest in privatization, but its proposal has little chance of pleasing the government since one of the conditions is the maintenance of the TAP hub in Lisbon – Iberia competes for flights with its own hub in Madrid.
The Portuguese Minister of Infrastructure, Pedro Nuno Santos, is still evaluating what percentage of participation will be offered – between half and almost the entire shareholding control.
Third privatization in its history
The sale of control of TAP to private groups comes just over two years after the Portuguese government renationalized the airline.
Founded in 1945, TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses) was born as a state-owned company, but was privatized in 1953. In 1975, after the Carnation Revolution, which put a leftist government in power, TAP was nationalized for the first time.
However, the serious financial crisis that Portugal went through at the beginning of the last decade culminated in the sale of several state-owned companies to justify financial aid from the IMF and the European Union, including TAP.
In 2015, after a long process, the airline had 61% of its capital sold to the Atlantic Gateway consortium formed by entrepreneurs David Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa.
In the same year, a new socialist government decided to regain control of the company and gradually acquired the participation of the private partners.
Currently, TAP faces huge losses, although it has expanded passenger transport in recent months thanks to the reheating of international flights.