Portuguese American Journal

Travel: China to acquire 20% of national flag carrier TAP – Portugal

Chinese Hainan Airlines (HNA Group) is to acquire up to 20% of TAP Portugal. The HNA Group, an aviation and tourism giant, is set to acquire the stake from Atlantic Gateway, a private consortium which currently owns half of TAP Portugal.

As a result, direct flights between Lisbon and Beijing will be established, operated by Beijing Capital Airlines a subsidiary of HNA Group.

According to the Portuguese media, the HNA Group will be acquiring stakes directly through the Atlantic Gateway consortium and indirectly through Brazilian airline Azul, owned by aviation tycoon David Neeleman. The acquisition should be finalized within the next three months.

Atlantic Gateway is a consortium formed by American-Brazilian aviation tycoon David Neeleman and Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa. Neeleman, is the founder and owner of US based budget airline JetBlue and Brazil based air carrier Azul.

The Portuguese Government, the former sole owner of TAP Portugal, currently owns 51% TAP Portugal, following the privatization of the Portuguese flag carrier in June 2015.  The privatization was sealed only two days after former Prime Minister Passos Coelho was ousted by a left-wing coalition, following the October 4, 2015, general elections.

In November 2015, the privatization process was contested by the newly elected left-wing governing coalition, which decided to retake control of 51% of TAP Portugal, reverting TAP Portugal back to state control.

Currently, TAP Portugal operates in the United States from Miami (Florida) and Newark (New Jersey); and from Boston in partnership with state owned Azores based SATA’s Azores Airlines. TAP Portugal will offer daily non-stop flights from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Lisbon starting June 11, and new daily departures from New York’s John F. Kennedy International to Lisbon starting July 1.