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TAP: reasons to be cheerful

Michael Conolly

Few people would want Michael Conolly's job. As the chief financial officer of Portugal's state-owned carrier TAP, he faces all the problems his airline peers are struggling with, plus a few that are specific to his own company.

In particular, TAP counts Brazil and Venezuela among its major routes, and they are not the most economically stable of countries. On top of that, in the midst of tough competition among European airlines, TAP planned to secure its future by linking up with another operator. But the other party, Swissair, suddenly and mysteriously announced in late 2000 that it was no longer interested in the deal because of internal problems. TAP couldn't understand why it had been jilted, right up until the Swiss carrier revealed the crippling extent of those problems when it went into administration in October 2001.

Sale plan is under review

Without a partner to rely on, TAP was slated for privatization, with the government planning to sell the company in several tranches. The first tranche was scheduled for the end of last year, but it remains in state hands.

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