According to Sapo news, at the 48th Congress of the Portuguese Association of Travel Agencies (APAVT) in Porto, when the executive president of TAP was asked if, from the point of view of companies interested in buying TAP, it was not an embarrassment that there was still uncertainty about the future of the airport? Luís Rodrigues replied: "It is conditioning, but this is reflected in the price".
That is, the State may have to sell TAP for a lower amount than would happen if there were a strategic plan for national airports defined, concluded the president of APAVT and the executive president (CEO) of the carrier.
"Any operator who wants to buy [TAP] will say: if there was a free airport infrastructure with a margin for growth or manoeuvre from tomorrow the amount I was going to pay was this because my growth process was one. If this is not the case, this will be reflected in what is possible to predict," he said.
The privatisation of TAP and the decision on the new Lisbon airport, promised for next year, are two of the major government dossiers that will be delayed, following the resignation of the Prime Minister, António Costa.
However, despite the conjuncture, Luís Rodrigues states that potential foreign operators candidates for the privatisation of the company maintain interest in the process, despite the postponement of strategic decisions by the political crisis.
"The interest for foreign operators is still there. Just yesterday [Friday] I spoke to one of them who told me: 'we have every interest, we realize that this is a political process that has its way, it's not because of that. And, therefore, you are doing a good job, the results are in sight, keep going,'" said Luís Rodrigues at the 48th APAVT Congress, which ends today in Porto.
The CEO also reaffirmed the importance of privatizing the flag airline.
"Pragmatically it is unthinkable to have an aviation company operating in a global competitive market to be conditioned by a shareholder, in this case the state shareholder. The most obvious and historically easy way to do this is to privatize it. I'm not going to discuss [the percentage]. It is to privatise it and the State, given the strategic importance it has for the country, to be there to accompany," he said.
The person in charge exemplified with some everyday situations that limit management acts with potential gains.
"A very frequent practice in the industry that is very sensible, is to make protection and buy fuel for the future when it is cheap ['hedging']. I can't do this today because being a company in the business sector of the state, not having an approved budget of 2024 - I already wish I had bought it in the summer when the fuel had a lower period - I can't compromise a future expense. Therefore, I can't buy fuel now, only when I have an approved budget," he exemplified.
That is why he called for if for some reason it is not possible to privatise TAP, that rules be created that allow the company to be managed free of the administrative obstacles to which it is subject in the current framework.
"This includes things like submission of everything that is more than five million euros to the Court of Auditors. Five million euros is something we do practically every day. Only in buying fuel is what it is," he reinforced.
"I'm not criticising the system. The system is what it is, and whoever wants to redesign it as they wish. What I am saying is that an option is created where companies that operate in an international competitive market, such as air transport, are free of all these things. What I've been watching is that this is politically difficult to defend. If that's the case, then privatise," he concluded.