Azul Linhas Aéreas has 189 million euros to receive from the Portuguese government. The debt originated from a loan taken out by the Brazilian airline to capitalize TAP in 2016, according to the newspaper Público.
At the time, the Portuguese airline had just been transferred to businessmen David Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa, although the government maintained a stake in the company.
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The original amount is 90 million euros, but the interest for that period already adds up to another 99 million euros. The Portuguese government has until 2026 to settle the debt, but must resolve the matter after the new privatization of TAP, whose tender is about to be published.
Originally, the loan provided for its conversion into TAP shares, but Lisboa, which decided to take over the carrier, did not authorize the deal.
TAP had 61% of its shares transferred to the Altantic Gateway consortium, formed by Neeleman and Pedrosa, in June 2015.
Shortly after taking over the airline, executives announced an order for 53 new Airbus jets, including A321neo models and A330-900neo widebodies.
In 2016, however, the newly sworn-in 1st Minister António Costa determined that the government should regain control of TAP, acquiring shares for 1.9 million euros.
The management of the airline ended up being the scene of disagreements between the private partners and the government. Already amid the Covid-19 pandemic and significant losses, David Neeleman sold part of it on TAP in 2020.
At the end of 2021, the government of Portugal renationalized TAP, but with the promise of offering it again to the private sector.
Several groups such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and IAG are said to be interested in controlling the Portuguese airline.