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Qatar Airways targets 40% share in Portuguese carrier

Posted 25 January 2011 · Add Comment

Qatar Airways has been identified as a potential bidder for 40% of Portugal's national carrier TAP when the airline in re-privatised this year.

Reports have been circulating that the Doha-based carrier is interested in taking the stake in the Lisbon-based airline which is currently wholly-owned by the Portuguese government.

There was an official visit to Doha and to the United Arab Emirates last week by Portugal's prime minister Jose Socrates and a delegation of senior Portuguese business executives and entrepreneurs including those from the airline TAP Portugal.

Fernando Pinto, president of TAP, spoke after an industry forum in Doha and told reporters that TAP doesn't plan to establish routes between Portugal and Qatar, but said Qatar Airways has expressed "interest in establishing flights to Portugal."  

He also said that the recent link between BA and TAP’s close rival Iberian was a model that could work. He said that partnerships in which airlines exchange equity investments in each other is happening more regularly.  

Yesterday TAP Portugal said it was "not surprised" by reports that Qatar is interested in acquiring a stake in the airline.  

Air Transport Intelligence (ATI) reported a spokeswoman as saying "There has been some news or indications pointing to the interest of Qatar becoming a possible partner." She stressed, that there was no firm evidence of Qatar’s interest but added   "we're not surprised about that; it means that the company is attractive".  

The Portuguese government's timetable for reprivatisation has not been released, but is expected to occur some time this year.

Aside from flights to the U.S. and Europe, TAP also serves as a European hub for flights to Angola, Mozambique and Brazil, former colonies of Portugal.

Pinto also said in Doha that the government still needed to set up a commission to review the best options for privatization.



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