David Neeleman guarantees “private commitment” at TAP and thanks “very much” the support of the State

TAP shareholder David Neeleman guaranteed today the “commitment of the private individuals” in the future of the company, thanking “very much” for the Portuguese State's emergency loan and affirming to accept its immediate entry in the company's Executive Committee.

Rafael Marchante / Reuters

"Although this was not our proposal, we are very grateful for the support of the Portuguese State through an emergency loan to TAP and we obviously accept measures to control the use of that loan", says Neeleman in a written statement sent to the Lusa agency.

After “months of silence”, the entrepreneur justifies this position with the need to “reject the declarations about the private sector's commitment to the future of TAP”, guaranteeing that they are “available to accept the participation of the State in the Executive Committee immediately and even before an eventual capitalization of the loan ”.

"We are also available to capitalize our credits in the company at the time of the approval of the restructuring plan that will be negotiated with the European Commission", he adds.

In the note sent to Lusa, Neeleman says he “opted for silence in recent months because he was focused on helping TAP's Executive Committee to work to find solutions in this very complex phase regarding the future of TAP”.

“However, and because there are limits, I cannot help rejecting the statements about the private sector's commitment to the future of TAP”, he maintains.

“Our commitment - guarantees - is the same as in 2015, when we won the privatization and saved TAP from a situation of insolvency, and after five years of very hard work we transformed TAP into a renewed, larger company and prepared for the future . We continue to believe in TAP despite this huge crisis that affected the entire economy and in particular the aviation sector ”.

According to David Neeleman - who with Humberto Pedrosa, through Atlantic Gateway, owns 45% of TAP - “since the beginning of the crisis, the executive team has worked night and day together with suppliers, having negotiated and obtained important support in the order of hundreds million euros ”.

"Our focus is not only to ensure that TAP survives, but that it regains the growth path that it has been following and that it thrives so that we can take care of our workers and customers", he defends.

Neeleman recalls that TAP needs “the help of the Portuguese State” just like “all other airlines in Europe” and states that “all investment made by the State” in the company “has a guaranteed return, multiplied many times over”.

This is in addition to "a significant impact on the Portuguese economy, both due to the economic stability" of the company's employees and the respective "value chain of Portuguese suppliers and partners", as well as by the "millions of visitors" that it annually transports to Portugal.

"TAP is very important for the country and I am sure that the Portuguese Government will know how to respect the commitments assumed with those who believed and transformed the company", he says.

Last Thursday, the Minister of Infrastructure said he trusted TAP's Board of Directors to make the company's restructuring plan, but considered that “the current CEO [Antonoaldo Neves] of TAP values ​​the fight too much”.

In an interview with the Socialist Party's “Politics with a Word” podcast, Pedro Nuno Santos said that it “confuses him that the CEO of a company that has his hand outstretched thinks he can relate to the State” in this way.

"As if they were doing us a favor", criticized the government official.

Two days earlier, on Tuesday, TAP's executive chairman, Antonoaldo Neves, admitted that the carrier's Executive Committee is available to accept a member appointed by the State, who is currently only present on the Board of Directors.

Antonoaldo Neves, who spoke on the parliamentary committee on Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing, at the Assembly of the Republic, in Lisbon, stressed that he did not see “any problem” that the State, as a shareholder of TAP, is also represented on the Executive Committee, considering even a “productive” option.

The minister added to the PS podcast that he saw the statements by Antonoaldo Neves with “some perplexity”, since the Portuguese State is “going to make the injection” of capital in the company, therefore, it was not “the current Executive Committee that I would be doing you a favor by showing willingness to accept a member of the Executive Committee ”.

Pedro Nuno Santos said, however, that the important thing, “at this stage”, is “to guarantee what is done every cent” that will be injected into TAP and that the proposed control and monitoring system “is much more effective than simply having a member on an Executive Committee ”where the State would not be a majority.

The European Commission approved on 10 June a “Portuguese emergency aid” to the airline TAP, a state support of 1.200 million euros to respond to the “immediate liquidity needs” with predetermined conditions for its reimbursement.

Since TAP was already in a weak financial position before the covid-19 pandemic, the company “is not eligible” to receive state aid under the more flexible Brussels rules due to the outbreak, which are aimed at “companies that otherwise they would be viable ”.

To the deputies, Antonoaldo Neves said that he did not expect “anything less than an extremely harsh European Commission” in the consideration demanded from the airline for the aid it is going to receive and regretted that TAP did not receive state aid in the form of guarantees for the payment of loans with private banks.

The executive president even considered the decision of the European Commission not to allow TAP to resort to the special mechanism of support to airlines, in the context of the pandemic of covid-19, “unfair”, considering that the carrier he leads was already in trouble before of the outbreak.

The executive president also said that it was “obvious” that TAP is unable to repay the loan it will receive up to 1.200 million euros and that it wants to present the restructuring plan in three months.

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