Up To 3,500 Job Cuts Possible At TAP Air Portugal

Around one-third of TAP Air Portugal’s workforce is set to lose their jobs under a €3.4 billion ($4.1 billion) rescue package unveiled by the Portuguese government on Friday. This rescue package for the Portuguese national flag carrier will mean that around 3,500 people could lose their jobs.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A321
TAP Air Portugal needs to reduce staff and have a smaller fleet. Photo: TAP

The plan, which will require approval from the European Union authorities in Brussels, also sees that those remaining employees who will still be on the airlines’ payroll take a 25% cut to their wages. If the plan gets the go-ahead from Europe’s politicians, it will mean that 500 pilots, 750 cabin crew, and 750 ground crew will be let go. On top of this, 1,600 employees on short-term contracts will not have their contracts renewed. The airline’s current fleet of 108 aircraft will also shrink to a more manageable 88.

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Passenger numbers are down 70%

The Portuguese government, who already owns 72.5 % of the national airline, predicts that even with the cuts, TAP Air Portugal will lose €6.7 billion ($8 billion) in revenue through 2025.

As a direct result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Lisbon-based airline lost more than €700 million ($849 million) in the first nine months of this year, with passenger numbers plummeting more than 70% when compared to the same period in 2019.

Truth be told, even before the coronavirus crippled the airline industry, TAP Air Portugal was already in trouble and would have had to file for bankruptcy without government aid. According to the Washington Post, Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos referred to this at a recent news conference.

A tough situation

TAP Air Portugal’s fate is a big talking point in Lisbon. This latest plan for the embattled airline is far from over, even if the politicians in Belgium give it the green light. It is sure not to go down well with the unions representing the airline’s nearly 10,000 employees.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330neo
Passenger numbers are down 70% compared to a year earlier. Photo: TAP

TAP needs to shed jobs

Just about all of Europe’s major airlines have had to call for government aid during what has been the most disastrous year on record for the airline industry. If truth be told, TAP Air Portugal has been flying on borrowed time even before COVID-19 became an issue. Like many state-owned airlines, TAP is bloated with staff and needs to become leaner if it hopes to compete with privately-owned carriers.

TAP Air Portugal is focused on former colonies and North America. Photo: Getty Images

The cuts are long overdue and necessary if TAP Air Portugal is to survive and return to profitability.

TAP Air Portugal is a Star Alliance member that flies to more than 80 destinations in 30 countries and is mainly focused on former Portuguese colonies and North America.

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