TAP Air Portugal: privatisation attracts Europe's big three airline groups

Premium Analysis

On 28-Sep-2023 the Portuguese government formally announced its plan to sell at least 51% of the share capital of TAP Air Portugal, reserving up to 5% for the airline's employees.

The government also defined the kind of buyer it is seeking, ruling out financial investors looking to buy and then sell the shares on.

"We want large-scale investors from the aeronautical sector, alone or in consortia headed by them, that are aligned with our strategic goals."

The government's strategic aims are to safeguard the growth of TAP and its hub at Lisbon, to ensure investment and jobs in aviation, to ensure growth at national airports with a focus on Porto, and to sell at a price that will "maximise the financial allocation to the country".

Portugal's largest airline by seats, TAP has lost seat share over the past decade while LCCs have gained.

However, its greatest strength is Europe-Latin America – in particular on routes to Brazil. This has attracted interest from potential bidders IAG, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa Group.

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