Municipal advisors agree that TAP does not operate in the region and claim support to attract foreign operators

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The joint meeting of the Municipal Councils for Tourism and Economy was held on 30 July, at the Rivoli, and on the agenda was, among other topics, the role of air transport in the city.

The Councillor for Economy, Tourism and Trade, Ricardo Valente, presented figures that showed that TAP represents 25% of the operations at the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport and “a great deal of these figures depend on the air-shuttle Porto-Lisbon”, while “foreign companies have an extremely relevant role”. The advisors agreed on the need for external promotion and support to the international connections of these operators.

“The region must put on the table that the funding of TAP must be balanced with the funding of the air links to the regions that do not have TAP as a company that operates there”, Ricardo Valente added.

Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto, recalled that “TAP’s problem with Porto is old” and reinforced the idea that as a public operator, “TAP cannot choose as it pleases” and that “public interest is not confined to a city, a region or an airport”. The Mayor of Porto also states the availability to subsidise the air carrier if it “is able to cover market failures”. Rui Moreira explained that these failures mean a regular service to the islands, or a fleet that is capable to handle emergency situations as is the case of repatriation scenarios.

If “the Government has not been able to explain what is the strategic interest of TAP”, for Porto and for the Northern Region it is to “be provided with good services”. In that regard, Rui Moreira furthers that “we must claim that an equal or proportional share of what is invested in TAP is delivered to us so that we can meet the market failures and attract private operators”.

Nuno Botelho, President of the Porto Trade association actually admits that “it might as well TAP assumes that it is an air carrier that provides services to Lisbon only and make it let go of Porto airport”. “Porto has always been a burden to TAP and we want to ease that burden”, he stated during the meeting.

The Mayor of Porto City Hall agrees that “sooner or later we must say we do not want TAP flying here”, as a response to the strategy to establish a hub at Lisbon Airport and that it is being hindered by the growth of the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport.

“This is not persecution delusion, this is a continued strategy by TAP”, ensures Rui Moreira. For the mayor of Porto, “the country cannot say it is strategically important to have a flagship air carrier. This is no good. This is a baffling argument. It is the same as to say that we want to have the Eiffel Tower in Porto”.

This topic’s debate was concluded with the agreement of a drafting of a motion to present to the members of parliament of the Assembly of the Republic elected by Porto, to the Government and to the President of the Republic, stating the view of the municipal advisors as regards the restructuring of the company.

“I do not envisage anything good from it, because there has been nothing but a deafening silence, but I am more than willing to go to the parliament and confront them with the ‘facts of life’”, affirmed Rui Moreira, for whom “to save money to the Treasury is not a non-patriotic behaviour”.