'I am more and more enthusiastic about TAP's future'

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 27-11-2019 09:47:00 · 0 Comments

Businessman David Neeleman, TAP's private shareholder, says he is "increasingly enthusiastic about the future" of the flag carrier, according to a statement sent to Lusa.

This statement comes on the day that Jornal de Negócios reported that the TAP entrepreneur is prepared to exit the company in the first quarter of next year, and is developing contacts with Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France and United to replace him.

The paper, without citing sources, wrote that this exit is related to "the degradation of relations" between Neeleman, the state and its partner in the Atlantic Gateway consortium, which owns 45% of TAP, Humberto Pedrosa, as well as to the "negative results".

"Today, as in 2015, when no one believed, I am increasingly enthusiastic about the future of TAP", the entrepreneur said in the statement, without making any reference to the information reported today.

"It is very important for Portugal that we are all successful. TAP needs focus and for its workers to continue to implement what has to be done, which is the best for TAP", the note added, which stated that "speculation and other types of manoeuvres do nothing to help this extraordinary project that is so relevant for Portugal".

The entrepreneur said that when he decided to go for the privatisation and studied "TAP's potential", he created a strategic plan, invited a Portuguese partner and gathered capital together with Azul and its shareholders in order to give TAP a future.

"In the first week under our management, we paid around €100 million of debts prior to our entry and we continue to do so. Today, TAP has €245 million in cash, more than three times what it had on the date of privatisation", Neeleman said.

TAP's shareholder also added that 'TAP has private shareholders fully committed to the growth plan that has been implemented'.

"I personally, together with Azul, which I control, believe in the future of TAP and today we hold rights equivalent to more than 70% of TAP's capital," he says.

"With all this investment in growth, the results for shareholders have not been as fast as we would have liked, but we are on the right track, as shown by the quarter after quarter results curve. A new fleet that is much more efficient and the new routes are starting to produce results, as shown in the accounts for the third quarter of 2019, in which TAP had an operating margin above its European peers", he guaranteed.

Even so, the airline continues to record losses, which, until September, reached €111 million.

Jornal de Negócios also stated that the government intends to use this possible shareholder change to negotiate changes in the management of TAP and appoint an executive director, which is not currently the case.


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