Portugal’s government is commissioning two independent assessments of TAP Air Portugal as a precursor to the formal launch of the flag carrier’s privatisation.

The country’s finance ministry and state holdings agency Parpublica have been mandated to carry out the assessments, which are a precondition for privisatations under Portuguese law. These will focus on determining the value of TAP and contracting for the privatisation process.

TAP A320

Source: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

TAP passenger numbers more than doubled to 13.8 million in 2022, reaching roughly four-fifths of pre-pandemic high engine

Portuguese finance minister Fernando Medina says the assessments are expected to last “a few months”, after which the government will launch a decree firming the details of TAP’s privatisation. 

Speaking at a joint press conference, Portugal’s infrastructure minister Joao Galamba also flagged that in addition to its “classic aeronautical dimension”, the airline marks an energy transition opportunity given its Lisbon hub will play a role in sustainable aviation fuel production. ”This… entails very significant opportunities for TAP,” he says, arguing this should be taken into account in the independent assessments.

Portugal previously sold a majority stake in TAP to the Atlantic Gateway consortium, which included Azul founder David Neeleman, in 2015. The state took back majority control of the airline in 2020 as part of moves to access a state support loan granted during the pandemic. 

Privatisation has since returned to the agenda, a move helped by the upturn in TAP’s financial fortunes. TAP returned to the black last year after posting a net profit of €65.6 million ($70.3 million) for 2022. The profit marked the Star Alliance carrier’s first positive net result since 2017 and also contrasts with a loss of €1.6 billion in 2021.

In February Air France-KLM chief executive Ben Smith reiterated the group’s interest in TAP, something made easier by the group this month repaying and closing state-backed loan facilities granted during the pandemic and to which conditions restricting acquisitions were attachedIAG boss Luis Gallego also said the carrier’s own move for Spanish airline Air Europa did not rule other acquisition opportunities, while Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said that though it is currently focused on Italy’s ITA Airways as a southern European partner, it too would look at TAP.