Luís Rodrigues’ first year at the helm of TAP marked by ‘record’ profits

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TAP’s CEO, Luís Rodrigues, completes a year at the helm of the airline on Sunday, marked by the ‘record’ profit of 177.3 million euros achieved in 2023 and the mission to keep the carrier out of the news.

Luís Rodrigues took office as Chairman of the Board of Directors (PCA) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TAP on April 14, 2023, while the parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) into the airline was underway, set up following the controversial compensation of half a million euros paid to former administrator Alexandra Reis, which led to a reshuffle in the previous government and the resignation for just cause of the previous heads of the airline, Manuel Beja and Christine Ourmières-Widener.

After several months in which the airline was in the news, the company adopted a more closed communication style, with Luís Rodrigues assuming that one of his team’s objectives was to keep TAP out of the news, considering that the carrier was a “punching bag in a CPI that became a media event”.

Transitioning from the Azorean airline SATA which, like TAP, received state aid and underwent restructuring, Luís Rodrigues inherited a heavy labor dossier when he took over the company in a context of great social instability, after months of arm-wrestling between the unions and the previous management.

Thus, his first year at the helm of the company was marked by negotiations with the 13 unions representing the group’s workers to approve new company agreements and thus put an end to the wage cuts applied as part of the restructuring plan.

Luís Rodrigues’ first 12 months in office were also marked by the start of the company’s reprivatization process by the previous government, which was put on hold with the dissolution of parliament and the calling of early legislative elections.

In December, at a lunch with journalists, Luís Rodrigues said that, informally, those interested in buying the Portuguese company – IAG, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM – said they understood the political conditions in the country and were waiting for developments.

On Friday, the Air France-KLM airline group guaranteed that it remains “very interested” in the possibility of buying TAP, as part of the company’s reprivatization project.

Sparsely speaking, Luís Rodrigues said he saw no reason for interested parties to give up their intention to buy TAP due to the political situation, but admitted that the privatization that António Costa’s government had intended to complete in the first half of this year “is not easy” to accomplish within the announced deadlines.

“I don’t rule anything out, but it’s not up to us, it’s a shareholder decision,” he said, when asked if the scenario of privatization in 2024 was out of the question.

In the Government Programme delivered to Parliament on Wednesday, Luís Montenegro’s government pledged to “launch the process of privatizing TAP’s share capital”, without further details.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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