British Airways owner IAG CEO Luis Gallego said on Wednesday that the upcoming privatization of Portuguese airline TAP “could be interesting” for his company, depending on the circumstances.
The Portuguese government is expected to approve the legal framework for the privatization of state-owned airline TAP on Thursday. He said he intends to retain a strategic stake in the carrier.
“We are always ready to welcome big companies and big brands into our portfolio,” Gallego said during a conference in Lisbon. “We want to see the terms of the privatization of TAP, and we think it could be interesting for us.” IAG also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.
He then told Bloomberg TV that TAP’s connections with Brazil, where IAG has little presence, and former Portuguese colonies in Africa could be a good complement to the group’s operations, where IAG could use the same Lisbon-Madrid dual pivot strategy as it does for Bloomberg TV. London and Dublin.
At least two other major global players – Lufthansa and Air France-KLM – have so far shown interest in TAP.
TAP CEO Luis Rodriguez said at the same event that he expects Thursday to be a “big day” for the company, adding: “I think (the privatization) will be a big day for the company.” “I think it (the privatization) is going well,” he said. The company is expected to achieve positive results for the second year in a row, after recording profits in 2022.
Gallego also said that travel demand was “very, very strong”, with the exception of the corporate sector, which continues to recover from the impact of the bird flu epidemic, adding that the resumption of business demand in Spain was faster than in Britain.
“Demand is very strong, especially leisure demand. High-end leisure traffic is extraordinary. It’s corporate traffic that is falling behind,” he said, adding that the delay was more significant at British Airways than at Iberia. (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Eileen Hardcastle)