British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group will bid for TAP Portugal when the carrier is privatised.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh confirmed his interest in the Portuguese carrier after issuing half-year results for the parent company of BA and Iberia on Friday.
Walsh said: “We are particularly interested in TAP because it has a very strong network into Brazil. TAP is the number one player between Europe and Brazil.”
The Portuguese government is poised to sell off the airline as it embarks on wholesale privatisation as a condition of the recent bail-out of the country by the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Walsh said: “You can expect us to look at it closely because it is an opportunity that could add value to the group.”
A tie up with TAP would give IAG a leading position in every transatlantic market. It already dominates the North Atlantic through BA’s position at Heathrow and the market to Spanish-speaking Latin America through Iberia at Madrid.
IAG was set up in December with a view to adding a series of carriers to its founding partners BA and Iberia. Walsh has said he has a list of 12 potential takeover targets.
Walsh will expect to face competition for TAP from its fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa, from Air France-KLM and from the leading Latin American carrier to be formed from the merger of Brazil’s TAM and LAN of Chile – the subject of a regulatory ruling now expected this month.
Picture by Simisa
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