“[The negotiation with the Commission] has been going well, in the sense that we are now practically in the final phase, and we hope to conclude the negotiation in the next few weeks. There was one point or another that was still under discussion, but in principle everything will be over. The expectation is that it will be approved by the end of the year, so in that sense, if possible, it will be before Christmas”, he declared.
Leão, who was speaking to the press after participating in the last meeting of the year of finance ministers of the European Union (Ecofin Council), in Brussels, said he could not guarantee the approval of the restructuring plan for the airline this month, but assumed that this was effectively the Government's expectation, since “the discussions are already sufficiently advanced”.
“Right now, we think things are pretty settled. There was an issue there about an alternative source of funding other than the state, and that issue is resolved. And there was also an issue on the table about the 'slots' that the company had to abdicate, based on the guidelines also from the Directorate-General for Competition [of the European Commission], and this issue, too, I think will be resolved," he said.
Asked whether he can guarantee that there will be no losses for bondholders, Leão noted that the restructuring plan "does not involve any measure that affects TAP bondholders."
“On the financial side, the issues were already resolved, there are no significant changes compared to what we had proposed. There is only the issue of solving an additional alternative financing that was planned, but not by the State, and on the other hand there are more specific issues of the company's operation that were being discussed, but nothing that puts the company's bondholders into question”.
In 2020, TAP returned to state control, which now holds 72.5% of its capital, after the company was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the European Commission authorised state aid of up to 1,200 million euros to the Portuguese flag carrier.
On March 12, the Government presented the European Commission with a notification for the granting of interim aid to TAP of up to 463 million euros that "will allow the airline to guarantee liquidity until the approval of the restructuring plan".
As part of state support to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, a restructuring plan is being implemented, which has already led to a reduction in the number of workers, which still awaits the 'green light' from the European Commission.
According to the report accompanying the State Budget proposal for 2022, the Government planned to inject 1,988 million euros into TAP this year and in 2022.