Angola: TAP, Euroatlantic and SAA compete for partnership with Angola’s Taag

23 February 2009

Luanda, Angola, 23 Feb – TAP is ahead in the running for a partnership with the Angolan Taag, though the Portuguese Euroatlantic and the South African SAA are competing for the partnership with one of the most strategic and well-equipped African airlines.

At the end of last week, Portuguese news agency Lusa, quoting a statement from the Angolan airline, reported that the partnership with TAP was “near”, including the areas of training and maintenance, but also the projects for creating the Aeronautical Maintenance Centre of Angola, an Aeronautical Training Centre, an Air Cargo Centre and others relating to auxiliary services.

“In the context of strengthening bilateral relations between the two companies,” it added that a TAP delegation, headed by company chairman, Fernando Pinto, met with the Taag administration on 17 and 18 February in Luanda.

An official Angolan airline source said that it was the first “informal and initial” high-level contact, and that the possible merger between the two companies was not under discussion.

The Lisbon-Luanda route has been the fastest growing for the Portuguese, in line with the strengthening of economic and commercial relations between the two countries, and TAP has shown an interest in increasing the number of flights to Angola, currently seven flights per week.

The airlines are working together to resolve vital issues for their futures, namely the return of Taag flights to Europe and, according to the Portuguese press, a strategic partnership is a possibility.

According to Africa Monitor newsletter, TAP was benefitting from a “marked preference”, because it was considered by the Angolan authorities to be well managed and prestigious, medium-sized and having important maintenance capacities, as well as a growth strategy focused on the South Atlantic Triangle.

However, according to recent reports in the same publication, negotiations with SAA have begun with a view to the company’s reorganization and restructuring plans.

A merger was not discussed, but rather collaboration in lifting the restrictions on all Angolan airlines.

Both have a Boeing technological platform in common – while TAP operates almost exclusively with Airbus planes and would also have been adversely affected by comments from Fernando Pinto and an alleged lack of receptiveness on the part of Portugal’s Transport Minister, Mario Lino.

The process of restructuring Taag is headed up by two of the best Angolan specialists in the field of organizing and running air transport companies: Pimentel Araújo, chairman of the Management Committee and Adriano Carvalho, chairman of the Committee.

Initially, Luanda was looking at three scenarios for forming a partnership: a joint-venture in which the partner would assume management of Taag, the transfer of part of the Angolan airline’s capital to the managing partner and a privatization extended to Angolan investors.

At the same time, the Portuguese government anticipates privatizing part of TAP in 2009, opening the way for a possible exchange of stakes in the context of the partnership.

Portuguese company Euroatlantic, which was Taag’s partner in the privatization of STP Airways, also confirmed via its chairman “advanced” talks with the Angolan leaders, according to the Brasilturis site.

Also, Taag is focusing on its international expansion and in March will launch a third weekly flight to China. (macauhub)