The chief executive of Air France-KLM has reiterated the group’s interest in acquiring TAP Air Portugal as it moves to exit restrictions attached to Covid-era state aid.

Air France-KLM said on 17 February that it planned to take refinancing measures in April that will enable it to exit restrictions – including those relating to mergers and acquisitions activity – linked to financial support received from the Dutch and French governments during the pandemic.

“We are really pleased the constraints have been removed – we can negotiate with confidence and more legitimacy with any opportunities that present themselves,” Ben Smith said during a full-year earnings call.

Citing “a few independent airlines Europe” that might be of interest in terms of acquisitions, Smith states: “[As I have said before] TAP is of interest to us strategically – we like the base in Lisbon, we like their position in the Brazilian market.”


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Air France-KLM says TAP is an attractive acquisition target

He notes, however, that “there is nothing further to report on that”.

Speaking in early November, TAP chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener welcomed the interest from Air France-KLM – and potentially others – in acquiring a stake in the Star Alliance carrier.

IAG and Lufthansa Group have also been linked with a move for TAP.

The latter is currently in exclusive talks with the Italian government over a stake in ITA Airways, after Air France-KLM concluded negotiations last year with no deal in place.