EU approves further COVID aid for Portuguese airline TAP

The first A330neo commercial passenger aircraft for TAP Air Portugal airline is seen at the Airbus delivery center in Colomiers near Toulouse

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission approved on Wednesday a further, smaller aid measure from Portugal’s government for the country’s ailing flag carrier TAP, having also signed off on a 2.55 billion euro rescue plan for the airline this week.

The Commission approved 71.4 million euros ($80.9 million) in state aid to compensate TAP for damage suffered in the first half of 2021, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“Because of these travel restrictions, TAP Air Portugal incurred significant operating losses and experienced a steep decline in traffic and profitability over this period,” the Commission said in a statement.

The aid will comprise a capital injection or a loan. The Commission said the compensation did not exceed what was necessary to address the damage, and the measure did not breach EU antitrust rules.

The smaller chunk of aid comes after Brussels on Tuesday approved an overall rescue plan for the airline, but imposed safeguards to limit distortions to competition.

The 2.55 billion euro restructuring plan for TAP, which is 72.5% controlled by the Portuguese state, involves thousands of job and pay cuts.

($1 = 0.8821 euros)

(Reporting by Kate Abnett)