IAG chief sees Portugal’s TAP as great fit, ‘optimistic’ about privatisation

By Sergio Goncalves

LISBON (Reuters) -Portugal’s soon to be privatised TAP airline would fit right into IAG’s profile as a developer of airlines and hubs, also strengthening its existing operations, the CEO of the British Airways owner told Reuters on Wednesday.

“We’ll have to study the process (of privatisation) and carefully consider the details, but we feel optimistic and believe that TAP can become another success story within IAG,” Luis Gallego said on the sidelines of the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon.

Portugal’s government is expected to approve the legal framework for the privatisation on Thursday. It has said it intends to keep a strategic stake in the carrier.

At least two other major global players – Lufthansa and Air France-KLM – have so far shown an interest in TAP.

IAG also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.

Gallego said growth in Irish carrier Aer Lingus, which has more than doubled its long-haul capacity and added nine destinations in North America since its acquisition four years ago, could serve as a model for TAP. The acquisition also helped develop the Dublin hub.

“We can jointly develop the Lisbon hub and provide significant value to Portugal and the Portuguese people…Our networks are highly complementary with many opportunities to connect passengers from Lisbon to Latin America, North America and Africa,” Gallego said.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by David Latona)