The boss of TAP Air Portugal expects the future ownership of the flag carrier to be decided “some time next year”.
Speaking at this week’s World Aviation Festival in Lisbon, Luis Rodrigues said he did not expect a cabinet meeting of the Portuguese government due to take place tomorrow to be decisive.
He said it might be another step towards the expected re-privatisation of the airline which was nationalised in 2020 after the Covid pandemic.
A subsequent restructuring with the European Commission saw the carrier shed 3,000 jobs. Rodrigues said the firm has “endured a lot” in its recent past.
Speculation is mounting that one of the big airline groups like Lufthansa could take over TAP Air Portugal.
Rodrigues said this week’s cabinet meeting was “another step”. “But there is always another step,” he added, “and I hope we are taking the steps so it works out finally.
“I’m a big defender of privatisation and I hope some time next year things will come to a closure.
“I’m not passing any judgement on the government as a shareholder but governments are not designed to run businesses in competitive markets.”
Rodrigues said he was rather regulators were “out of the discussion”. “There are so many other thigs that they need to deal with. The market will dictate the rules.”
Rodrigues said an airline brand that carries a country’s flag as a special responsibility and it aims to transform into “one of the most attractive airlines in the world”.
“We would appreciate some peace now but guess what we won’t have it. If we can’t have peace let’s have some positive and constructive change.”
He added: “Success and aiming high is not a straight forward concept in our national culture. We would rather aim high and fail than settle down and not try.”
Rodrigues said the carrier has three main challenges, the first being “all things sustainable”. “This is first and foremost our moral duty, not out of some guilty feeling.”
The second challenge is adoption of technology to improve operations and customer service where the carrier has some “catch up work to do”.
Finally, there needs to be better airport infrastructure at Lisbon. “We have been discussing a new location [for the airport for 50 years.
“We need new infrastructure to keep visitors coming, not to drive more. We should not have an airport in the centre of a city.”