Lufthansa in the frame as possible TAP bidder

Lufthansa in the frame as possible TAP bidder

Lufthansa is reported to be in the frame as a possible bidder for TAP Air Portugal.

A spokesman said that the German carrier would "look at opportunities" after its chief executive Christoph Franz told the Financial Times he would consider the case for buying Portugal’s flag carrier.

"But the focus is currently definitely on consolidation of the existing portfolio and not on acquisitions," the spokesman said.

Portugal's government has promised to privatise TAP, possibly this year, under the terms of a €78 billion European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout.

The carrier has attracted the interest of several international operators, including British Airways' owner International Airlines Group, due to its fast-growing routes to South America and Africa.

Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho courted Lufthansa on a trip to Germany last year, saying TAP would be a "good investment" for a German company, Reuters reported.

Lufthansa recently sold BMI to IAG, having failed to turn it around, is restructuring Austrian Airlines and has announced 3,500 job cuts as it tries to improve earnings in the face of competition from budget carriers and Middle Eastern airlines.

Yet Franz said he would not rule out acquisitions if there were valuable targets.

"(TAP) is one of the larger carriers who manage the gateway to Latin America, and that is clearly a good reason to at least listen if your colleagues (at TAP) are giving you a phone call," the FT quoted Franz as saying.

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