LONDON – Ryanair GCEO Michael O’Leary believes that the Portuguese government will sell TAP Air Portugal to Iberia, staking up more speculation about the airline’s future.
In an interview with ECO, O’Leary said the following:
“The Portuguese Government wants to rescue TAP and package it up to give it to someone”.
“Once TAP is sold to Iberia, then the Portuguese Government will invest more here”.
In December 2021, it was revealed that Lufthansa, Air France-KLM & Iberia-British Airways are on the list of buyers for TAP Air Portugal.
However, if the ITA Airways bid for Lufthansa & MSC Cruises goes through, this could potentially remove them from the list as they would have a new airline to focus on.
If Iberia, which is under the IAG umbrella, was to acquire the airline, then this would bolster the organization’s presence in Europe, which would be big competitive news for other carriers operating in Portugal.
The same would apply for Air France-KLM, as that would be a big portion of Europe covered also.
Back in January, the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, confirmed that there was a company interested in taking 50% of the state-owned airline.
O’Leary’s Aggression Against TAP…
It is clear that whoever acquires TAP, O’Leary will protest this to the European Commission, as he has done with other carriers in the past.
The relationship between O’Leary and TAP has been pretty fierce in recent months.
Because TAP wouldn’t budge, Ryanair responded by canceling 19 routes from the Portuguese capital, hindering the airport and the overall tourism GDP output for the country.
Should O’Leary Mind His Own Business?
With O’Leary being as outspoken as he normally is, it does seem like the airline industry is becoming numb to his words.
Around eight months ago, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren stated to the press that O’Leary should focus on running his own airline, rather than meddling in the affairs of others.
For O’Leary, it doesn’t make any difference either way, as his protests are actually giving exposure to Ryanair, and in a good way as well.
By exposing such actions, O’Leary is seen as the CEO who is constantly trying to push for low fares, and acquisitions like TAP Portugal could increase airfares across the board.
It remains clear that the outcome of the TAP sale will create a change in the aviation industry, as it seems that at least one major conglomerate is going to own the airline.
O’Leary’s perspective behind this is to wait for whoever the recipient is before making his protests to the European Commission, which is something he is likely to do.
For TAP, it’s also clear that the restructuring that was approved in December last year is still not enough, and that a buyer is needed as soon as is feasibly possible.
But for now, we wait and see with bated breath to see what happens next.