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Portugal launches sale of 51pc in state-owned airline TAP

LISBON, Sept 28 — The Portuguese government today opened the sale of a majority stake in flag carrier TAP, expected to attract the interest of European rivals including Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways owner IAG.

TAP had to be rescued and renationalised in 2020, which was followed by job cuts and plane sales in order to secure EU approval of a €3.2 billion (RM15.9 billion) capital injection for the debt-laden airline.

“The government adopted today the decree on the privatisation of TAP,” Finance Minister Fernando Medina said after the Socialist-led government’s weekly cabinet meeting.

The government wants to sell at least 51 per cent of TAP, with at least five per cent of shares reserved for employees, he added, without specifying how much the government might raise from the sale.

The airline posted a profit of 23 million euros for the first half of this year, compared with a loss of 202 million euros in the period last year.

“The outlook for 2023 is even better,” said Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba.

Analysts say Germany’s Lufthansa, which took a major stake in Italy’s ITA in May, might be interested in bidding, while Air France-KLM chief Ben Smith reiterated his interest in July.

TAP flies several routes to North America and Brazil, which could also be a good fit for IAG, which also owns Spanish airline Iberia. — AFP