An agreement that may have important repercussions on air traffic between Europe and America is currently taking place. According to the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negócios, TAP, Portugal’s flagship airline, may have part of its shares purchased by United and Lufthansa. Controlled by the Portuguese government, TAP’s private partners are businessmen Humberto Pedrosa and David Neeleman, the latter known for controlling several other airlines.
Through the Atlantic Gateway consortium, the two won 45% of TAP in 2015, when they initiated a profound change in the company’s operation. According to the newspaper, it is precisely the consortium that is negotiating its participation with the two well-known airlines. Proposals include buying only Neeleman’s share or the entire Atlantic Gateway.
However, this is not the first time that rumors have been heard about TAP stakeholders, which also included the IAG group (owner of Iberia and British Airways) and Air France-KLM. However, these attempts were rejected by the partners, however, the situation would now be different.
Neeleman would be dissatisfied by not being able to shape TAP according to his business vision that includes the opening of the airline’s capital – something that the Portuguese socialist government is against. Another initiative by the entrepreneur, to give bonuses to company executives, was also viewed with disgust by the public partner. With his hands tied, the businessman would have decided to throw in the towel and focus on other businesses such as the Brazilian company Azul and its new low cost company, Breeze Airways.
Growth despite loss
Under Neeleman’s guidance, TAP expanded its demand by 60% in addition to modernizing its fleet, with the withdrawal of the A340 four-engine jets, replaced by the A330-900neo, of which the company is the launch customer and which are 19 aircraft received. The company also operates four A321LR, a long-range variant of the single-aisle jet.
However, losses continue to haunt TAP. In 2019, it was almost $ 115 million, but the company stressed that it achieved an operating profit of $ 15.3 million in the second half.
With its hub in Lisbon a short distance from South America, TAP has taken the opportunity to maintain a very dense international network, especially in Brazil, a country with which it has historical ties and speaks the same language.
If Lufthansa and United take over 45% of the company, it will certainly be a strategic reinforcement for the Portuguese airline, which, like them, is a traditional Star Alliance partner.