LISBON: The Portuguese government on Thursday opened the sale of a majority stake in flag carrier TAP, with Lufthansa quickly expressing interest and other European rivals also expected to be keen.
TAP had to be rescued and renationalized in 2020, which was followed by job cuts and plane sales in order to secure EU approval of a 3.2 billion euro ($3.4 billion) capital injection for the debt-laden airline.
“The government adopted today the decree on the privatization of TAP,” Finance Minister Fernando Medina said after the Socialist-led government’s weekly cabinet meeting.
The government wants to sell at least 51 percent of TAP, with at least five percent 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.
Germany’s Lufthansa, which took a major stake in Italy’s ITA in May, said in a statement the TAP sale is “interesting for us.”
“Lufthansa Group and TAP would complement each other very well, especially with TAP’s route network to and from South America,” it added.
Air France-KLM chief Ben Smith reiterated his interest in July.
TAP flies several routes to North America and Brazil and could also be a good fit for British Airways owner IAG, which also owns Spanish airline Iberia.