The contract for the sale of 61% of TAP was signed on Wednesday, the 24th of June. The signing of the contract between the Portuguese government, represented by the Ministers of Finance and the Economy, and the Atlantic Gateway consortium, made up of entrepreneurs Humberto Pedrosa (owner of the Barraqueiro Group) and David Neeleman (Azul shareholder), took place at the Ministry of Finance early Wednesday morning. “TAP will still be our flag carrier. We want to make it the best airline in Europe. A stable company that everyone will be proud to work for. The decision-making centre will remain in Lisbon. It is with great pride that we can declare today that TAP will continue to be Portuguese”, said the head of the consortium, Humberto Pedrosa. Questioned by journalists at the end of the ceremony, Fernando Pinto expressed his willingness to continue leading the company during this transition phase. “It will depend on whether they invite me, and under what conditions and in what role”, he said. This sale will add 10 million euros to the State’s coffers and inject 354 million euros of fresh capital into TAP.
Preserve, rejuvenate and strengthen the TAP brand
In a press conference, Atlantic Gateway presented its strategic commitments to TAP: strengthen the Lisbon hub as a long-term commitment; explore opportunities for cooperation; preserve, rejuvenate and strengthen the TAP brand; keep the corporate headquarters in Portugal and maintain the capacity to fulfil public service options. At least 53 new aircraft will be acquired and between 600 and 800 million euros will be invested in the next few years. According to its planned growth strategy, Atlantic Gateway believes that it would be advantageous to trade the twelve A350 aircraft ordered from Airbus for fourteen A330-900 Neo aircraft (with the first to be delivered in 2017) and thirty-nine A321 Long Range/A320 Neo by 2020. For now, the consortium expects to renovate and reconfigure the cabins of the current A330-200 aircraft. Ten new routes are planned for the US, including Washington, Boston and Chicago, and between 8 and 10 new routes are planned for Brazil. Routes to Europe will also be reassessed. David Neeleman stressed that they do not plan to reduce staff in the next three years. In fact, staffing may be increased over the medium term. The path to improving the airline will be “lowering costs by improving efficiency”. As to the future of PGA, he said that the consortium is studying the situation
Strategic plan presented at TAP
The afternoon was spent at TAP, where Pedrosa and Neeleman were introduced to a group of 250 senior staff from various areas of the company at a meeting where they had an opportunity to explain their strategic plan for the airline: recapitalisation of up to 800 million euros and fleet renewal, with an estimated return to profitability as early as next year.
Fernando Pinto, who hosted the meeting, began by congratulating the entire TAP team for their hard work during this process, which made such a decisive contribution towards its successful conclusion. The meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, was followed by a visit to Hangar 6, during which Humberto Pedrosa and David Neeleman had an opportunity to see the facility and exchange views with some of the workers there.