TAP Air Portugal CEO fired by Portuguese government
In an interesting turn of events, the Portuguese government fired the CEO and Chairman of TAP Air Portugal, a state-owned airline. Christine Ourmières-Widener, now former CEO, was caught in a scandal involving a severance payment of €500,000 to a former board member, Alexandra Reis. Manuel Beja, chairman of the board, was also dismissed.
The announcement occurred today during a press conference held by Minister of Infrastructure João Galamba and Finance Minister Fernando Medina. Medina said,
“This episode has shaken the confidence of the Portuguese in TAP and it is essential, above all, to recover the bond of trust between the country and the company.”
Beja and Ourmières-Widener were fired with “just cause,” meaning the two will not receive any compensation. Medina added that the government would look to privatize the airline soon. Luis Rodrigues, the current CEO of SATA, will take over as both chairman and CEO.
Alexandra Reis joined TAP’s board in 2017, but her tenure was short, leaving the following year. During her time with TAP, Reis was one of the key figures in the airline’s restructuring, which led to cutting more than 3,000 jobs. When Reis left her role, she had two years left on her contract and was compensated with a severance payment of half a million Euros.
Originally, Reis had asked for a severance payment of €1.5 million, but she eventually received just a third of what she asked for. Now, the government will require Reis to repay nearly everything she received in the severance payment, €450.110,26.
A document from TAP stated,
“As compensation for the termination of all the aforementioned contractual functions, and despite the initial claim of Alexandra Reis, amounting to 1,479,250 euros, it was possible to reduce and agree an overall gross aggregate amount of 500,000 euros to be paid.”
Simple Flying has reached out to TAP for comment and has yet to receive a reply at the time of publishing.
Interest in TAP
Last month, both the Lufthansa Group and Air France – KLM Group were reportedly interested in acquiring TAP. Most recently, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the airline was focusing its efforts on the acquisition of ITA Airways but was keeping its options open.
“The priority for Lufthansa is ITA but, of course, as number one [airline group] in Europe you cannot focus on one take-over candidate only. I do not shy away from TAP. The two most interesting [mergers and acquisitions] candidates right now are ITA and TAP, but I could give other names too. Whenever a candidate arises, we will keep a close eye on it and show our interest.” – Spohr
Air France-KLM Group CEO Ben Smith confirmed the group’s interest in TAP and highlighted the airline’s Brazil network as an important factor. Currently, no negotiations have taken place but the Portuguese government is reportedly looking to sell at least a 50% stake in the airline.
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