While passenger traffic at Portuguese airports in the first four months of the year exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the country's flag carrier is yet to gather momentum.
Portugal’s state-owned airline TAP carried 7.58 million passengers in the first half of this year, a 30% increase from a year ago but still slightly below pre-pandemic levels even as tourist numbers have already exceeded those seen in 2019.
Still, the state-owned carrier, which the government plans to partially privatize, said on Monday that intercontinental routes to Brazil, North America and Africa carried 2.17 million passengers in the period, 14.7% more than in the first half of 2019.
That, it said in a statement, “demonstrated the solid recovery of the company,” although the total passenger traffic fell 4% shy of the same period in 2019 as the airline’s flights within Europe, including mainland Portugal and islands — carried fewer passengers.
TAP is undergoing a restructuring under a Brussels-approved 3.2 billion euro ($3.51 billion) rescue plan, but the government wants to launch its privatization as early as this month while intending to keep a strategic stake.
At least three major global carriers — IAG, Lufthansa, and Air France-KLM — have so far shown interest in TAP. The Portuguese airline reported a net loss of 57.4 million euros in the first quarter of this year, which represented more than a 50% drop from the loss in the previous year’s period, due to increasing passenger numbers.
(Reporting by Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Paul Simao)
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Photo credit: TAP carried 7.58 million passengers in the first half of this year. Fabian Joy / Unsplash