TAP hub to stay in Lisbon
Reuters and others reported last week on the agreement reached by the Portuguese government after talks with the unions who threatened a crippling strike over Christmas, forcing it to invoke special labour requisition powers to prevent the stoppage. The key point is that future buyer or buyers of Portugal’s flag carrier TAP will be barred from laying off workers en masse as long as the state remains a shareholder – the government plans to sell a 66% controlling stake in TAP, but will retain 34% that can only be sold after two years. "The agreement guarantees that there will be no collective layoffs for 30 months or as long as the state has a stake in the company, whatever is the longest," said the state secretary for transport, Sergio Monteiro. The government also approved other conditions for privatisation, which include preserving TAP’s status as the Portuguese flag carrier and keeping the headquarters and main hub in Lisbon.
The airline has eye-watering debts of 1 billion euros and the cash-strapped state is banned from injecting fresh capital into the company under European Union rules. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has gone on record as saying that TAP will not survive if it remains in state hands. The privatisation is part of a programme of state asset disposals agreed between Lisbon and its EU/IMF creditors under its 2011 bailout, which the country exited last year. Most other privatisations have been successfully completed, exceeding Lisbon’s revenue target.
TAP’s sell-off is unlikely to bring much cash to the government, but would rid it of the airline’s sizeable debt. "We are not looking to raise cash with this privatisation, but for conditions for the company to continue to grow in the future," Monteiro said. The TAP privatisation was relaunched in November after being suspended in 2012 when the only bidder failed to present financial guarantees in time. The government hopes it can sell TAP this time after being approached by at least three potential bidders. Media reports cite Brazilian airline companies Gol and Azul among potential bidders.
December port figures
These show 50 cruise ships visiting during the month, with a combined maximum capacity of 88,000 passengers. There was just the one debutant, Crystal, operated by Cuba Cruise
Sea Lion “beached” in Câmara de Lobos
A sea lion was found yesterday morning on the beach in Câmara de Lobos . A team from the Natural Park of Madeira reported that it was not seriously injured – they suspected it could be the same sea lion seen last year in Porto Moniz with a slight injury now compounded by a small opening in the wound. The sea lion was observed by the team and spent some time on the beach before returning to the water in the afternoon.
School of Hospitality and Tourism celebration
Today sees the annual “Blessing” of the 110 final year students of the Escola Profissional de Hotelaria e Turismo da Madeira at the Church of St. John the Evangelist (College Church). Later they eat and party at the Casino da Madeira. There are three courses offered by the School, which provides qualified staff to the tourism sector on the island (Techniques of Cooking and Pastry, Techniques for Food and Beverage Service, Tourism and Hotel Operations).
Man discovered dead on new Funchal beach
The body of a man in his thirties was discovered late on Wednesday night on the new “beach” in Funchal. He was believed to have been fishing from one of the sea defence “tetrapods” and have fallen. The Bombeiros Voluntários Madeirenses attended, together with the Polícia Marítima and Coroner.