Air France-KLM remains strongly interested in TAP Air Portugal -whose deprivation is provided for by Lisbon- after the acquisition of a stake in the Scandinavian company SASsaid a spokesperson for the Franco-Dutch group.
The Portuguese government plans to sell a stake of at least 51% of the capital of the public company TAP Air Portugal. Air France-KLM but also German Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Eurowings and soon ITA Airways) and the IAG group (British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Air Europa), have expressed their interest.
The participation of Air France-KLM at 19.9% in the share capital of SAS and that of Lufthansa Group at 41% in ITA Airways are a logical process in the restructuring of air transport in Europe. Small traditional national airlines, such as SAS, ITA Airways or TAP Air Portugal, have struggled to compete with low-cost airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air and easyJet which are slowly but surely eating into their domestic markets. Also, the airline groups Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM and IAG intervene to reorganize and save small national companies in return for a partial takeover.
In the battle between these three European airline groups in the privatization of TAP Air Portugal, Air France-KLM has a chance of winning. The Lisbon government announced that it wanted to find a partner who would allow it to save the ailing Portuguese airline without losing its brand image, its Portuguese national identity while developing a Portuguese air hub. Requirements which a priori favor the Franco-Dutch group.
Indeed, France-KLM has tended to let the airlines in which it invests maintain their activities and their own identity. After the 2004 merger between the two French and Dutch companies, Air France and KLM still fly under their own colors and many activities remain separate. While the German Lufthansa Group and the Anglo-Spanish IAG have a reputation for thoroughly restructuring the airlines they buy, by harmonizing their customer services and commercial practices, and rationalizing their network of routes.