Former Portuguese TAP proprietor denies overpaying for Airbus planes By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: David Neeleman, founding father of Azul SA, attends an occasion to mark the service launch of his new E2-195 plane with Brazilian airline No.3 Azul SA in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil September 12 2019. REUTERS/Roosevelt Cassio/File Photograph

LISBON (Reuters) – A former proprietor of Portuguese flag provider TAP, David Neeleman, denied on Friday that he struck a deal in 2015 to overpay for Airbus planes after prosecutors mentioned final month they had been investigating the deal. rental complicated, in addition to on options that he had purchased TAP shares with firm cash.

In an opinion piece in Portuguese newspaper Expresso, the US-Brazilian aviation mogul wrote that changing a lease contract for 12 Airbus A350s with an order for 53 NEO-series jets was essential to exiting TAP from close to chapter when it took over.

“Additionally it is utterly absurd to say that TAP shares had been bought with Airbus funds or with TAP’s future money flows,” he wrote, including that TAP was utilizing the $226 million completely. ‘Airbus in fringe advantages to pay salaries and for its money stream wants.

Sources informed Reuters final month that investigators had been trying into attainable unlawful financing by Airbus of the TAP acquisition, as a part of a brand new probe into the plane maker’s enterprise dealings following a settlement $4 billion corruption document with French, British and American authorities in 2020.

The 2015 deal underneath investigation dates again to when TAP, once more totally state-owned, had simply been privatised, passing management to the Atlantic Gateway firm between Neeleman and Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa.

Neeleman mentioned it was additionally “not true” that TAP had acquired the NEO planes above market value, citing impartial value determinations made on the time, and argued that the airline couldn’t merely could not afford the bigger, much less environment friendly A350s and would have gone broke with out the brand new deal.

He mentioned Atlantic Gateway had additionally injected its personal funds into TAP and secured a 90 million euro ($96.04 million) mortgage from Azul, the Brazilian airline based by Neeleman, “on phrases very favorable for TAP”, saving TAP from quick insolvency.

Portugal purchased in 2020 Neeleman’s stake in TAP, which is topic to a 3.2 billion euro bailout authorised by Brussels. The federal government is contemplating an outright or partial sale of the airline, with Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and British Airways proprietor IAG (LON:) anticipated as potential consumers.

($1 = 0.9371 euros)