Portuguese flag carrier TAP Air Portugal is on its way to being privatized for the second time in less than a decade.
Speaking at the Portuguese parliament, Prime Minister Antonio Costa confirmed that during the council of ministers next week Portugal’s government will approve and initiate the process to sell the national airline to private investors.
TAP Air Portugal has attracted the attention of the three main European airline groups, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and IAG, since the airline has a significant presence in a number of African and transatlantic markets, particularly in Brazil.
Regardless of which bidder is successful, the Portuguese government aims to retain an equity stake to guarantee the continued role of Lisbon Airport (LIS) as a major hub.
In 2015 a consortium of private investors led by American airline entrepreneur David Neeleman acquired a 45% stake in TAP Air Portugal and took effective control of the airline’s management.
However, in July 2020, TAP returned to majority public ownership after Neeleman sold his own 22.5% to the government. The deal followed a €1.35 billion government rescue package prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new privatization process is expected to be completed in 2024.