Portugal's ailing flag carrier, TAP, is delivering on its restructuring goals despite global uncertainties, which makes it all the more attractive to a potential international partner who could reinforce its resilience, its chief executive has said.
The 72.5% state-owned airline also boasts "one of the most modern European fleets, and unique market destinations" in Brazil and Africa, Christine Ourmieres-Widener told reporters.
"TAP is definitely quite an attractive airline for any group in a consolidation process. To be part of a big (international) group would be a source of resilience for TAP," she said, adding that a strong partner would ideally bolster TAP's market share in key markets such as the United States.
She said it was up to the government to decide whether and when to reprivatise TAP, declining to estimate when that could happen.
Brussels approved in December a €3.2 billion rescue plan for TAP, but imposed a tough restructuring that included downsizing its fleet, cutting more than 2,900 jobs and reducing wages of most workers by up to 25%.
TAP has to achieve positive operating results in 2023 and a net profit in 2025, recouping from a record loss of €1.6 billion in 2021.
Ourmieres-Widener said that TAP was already showing "a very significant improvement in the operating profit" and aimed to improve such parameters as amortization, depreciation, interest and debt.
TAP's first-half loss more than halved from a year ago to €202 million as passenger revenue jumped nearly five-fold and it is flying at 90% of 2019 capacity, after two years of repressed global travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the surge in jet fuel prices that could nearly double to 1 billion euros at TAP this year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the prospect of a global economic slowdown or a recession, she said that bookings of the third quarter and for the fourth quarter were "very strong".
Portugal's TAP Says Hackers Stole, Published Passengers' Personal Data
The above followed news that Portugal's flag carrier, TAP, told customers on Thursday 22 September that hackers had stolen some of their personal data and published it on the dark web, although the state-owed airline said all payment details appeared to be safe.
TAP said in a letter to customers the cyber attack last month obtained from its servers people's names, nationalities, email and home addresses, phone contacts and frequent flier numbers.
"The release of the personal data via open sources could increase the risk of their illegal use, namely aimed at obtaining other data that could compromise the digital systems in fraudulent attempts such as phishing," TAP said.
"There are no signs that any payments data have been retrieved from TAP systems," it said. The airline also said it had taken immediate containment measures to keep its systems working and to protect other data.
It urged customers to be wary of unsolicited contacts requesting personal information, and told them not to click on links and attachments in suspicious emails. TAP also recommended changing passwords to stronger ones and said it would abstain from further contact with individual clients about the issue to avoid confusion.
TAP CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener told reporters the airline was "very serious about client data" and said the incident was upsetting.
She would not disclose the number of affected clients, which some local media have put at around 1.5 million, saying that such estimates did not necessarily correspond to facts. She promised additional further investment in cybersecurity.
Portugal's military has recently been the target of a cyberattack in which hundreds of classified NATO documents were allegedly stolen and put up for sale on the dark web, Diario de Noticias newspaper reported. Portuguese authorities have not acknowledged the breach but said they were investigating whether there had been one.