Air France-KLM’s Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith expressed that the airline group is interested in purchasing a stake in TAP Air Portugal, should anything become available.

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Who will acquire a stake in TAP?

In September, Simple Flying reported that the Portuguese government was looking to privatize TAP Air Portugal and that the process needed to be finalized as quickly as possible. Lufthansa and Air France-KLM are seen as the two frontrunners for taking control of TAP.

Today, Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said that the airline group is interested in a stake in TAP.

“If the right circumstances are in place, we’re interested. Consolidation is key for us, especially in Europe. The Iberian peninsula we’ve studied for many years.”

Smith said that if a partnership or ownership in TAP becomes available, the Air France-KLM group would “definitely engage on a formal basis.”

TAP Airbus A330neo
Photo: Airbus

A few weeks ago, Pedro Nuno Santos, Portugal’s Infrastructure Minister, said that after suffering a loss of $1.5 billion last year, TAP needed to combine with a large aviation group. TAP has received almost $2.5 billion in aid from the Portuguese government.

Back-and-forth, back-and-forth

TAP continues dancing with the Portuguese government, going between state-owned and privately owned. In June 2020, TAP investors David Neeleman (founder of JetBlue, WestJet, and Azul Linhas Aéreas) and Humberto Pedrosa sold their stake in the airline to the government. In 2019, before the sale, Lufthansa had been interested in TAP.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-941 CS-TUH

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Though Air-France KLM has explicitly expressed its interest in TAP, Lufthansa may be favored as TAP is a Star Alliance airline.

Air France-KLM criticizes Schiphol

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has been the center of chaos in Europe for months now. From long lines leading to hours of wait times to flight caps, Schiphol is in a dire position. The airport continues to experience significant disruption, and Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith criticized the airport after the group reported its Q3 financial results.

“Thanks to solid preparation and to our agile approach to capacity, Air France-KLM was able to make the most of the strong travel demand this quarter. While the situation remains unsatisfactory in some key airports – notably impacting KLM at its Amsterdam Schiphol hub – we saw significant improvements following the operational challenges that had erupted earlier this year.”

KLM estimates that because of the flight cap, it could lose up to $70 million in ticket sales this winter. During Q3, the airline group had $60 million in extra compensation because of severe delays and cancelations.

Amsterdam Schiphol confirmed a passenger cap for September and October, and caps are expected to last for another six months. The situation at AMS is so dire that on-time performance dropped below 20% more than once.

What are your thoughts on the Air France-KLM group acquiring a stake in TAP? Do you think Lufthansa has a higher chance because it is one of TAP’s Star Alliance Partners? Let us know in the comments below.

  • TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-941 CS-TUB

    TAP Air Portugal

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Lisbon Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Christine Ourmières-Widener



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