TAP: MEP Pimenta Lopes questions Brussels on Neeleman’s links with Airbus

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Portuguese Socialist MEP João Pimenta Lopes today questioned the European Commission about the links between businessman David Neeleman and Airbus, which has allegedly damaged TAP Air Portugal by claiming 444 million euros.

Mr. Pimenta Lopes is asking Brussels to evaluate TAP’s privatization process and Mr. Neeleman’s agreement with Airbus, under which the European aircraft manufacturer gave “226.75 million dollars [209.94 million euros at the current exchange rate] to another of Mr. Neeleman’s companies, money which was then channeled to Atlantic Gateway”.

The money was then used “for the capital injection that guaranteed the privatization” of TAP, the MEP also claims, concluding that “Neeleman bought TAP with TAP money”.

The deal – according to the question sent to the European Commission – “involved abandoning the lease of 12 A350 aircraft and signing a contract for the acquisition of 53 new aircraft”, for which TAP would have paid around $254 million (€230 million) above the market value of leasing the new aircraft.

Mr. Pimenta Lopes also questioned the European executive on “the involvement and responsibilities of Airbus”.

Atlantic Gateway – the consortium of Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa (Barraqueiro Group) – was selected for the privatization of TAP in June 2015, after taking control of 45% of the Portuguese national airline’s capital.

The privatization was cancelled in 2016 by António Costa’s government, with the nationalization of TAP, which in the meantime is due to be privatized again.

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