Maintenance Helps TAP Revival

TAP Portugal A321
Credit: TAP Portugal

TAP Air Portugal has praised the “important” contributions of its maintenance and cargo arms to revenues in 2022, when the flag carrier not only returned to profit but also beat its 2019 performance.

Cargo and maintenance contributed more than €100 million ($108.4 million) in sales, while the group as a whole posted net income of €66 million for the year, versus a loss of €161 million in 2019.

Nonetheless, TAP Maintenance & Engineering (TAP M&E) faced similar challenges to the wider MRO market in 2022, with supply chain constraints impacting availability of maintenance parts.

TAP M&E also shut down its Brazilian operations during the year, which had forced it to take a €1 billion charge in its 2021 results.

That divestiture was demanded by the European Union in return for approval of €2.55 billion in state aid for TAP during the pandemic.

This aid was deeply controversial in Portugal, where its fragile economy was severely tested during the COVID-19 years—so much so that the airline now views sustainable profitability as key to rebuilding trust with the population and “honoring the investment of the Portuguese.”

Yet the flag carrier remains heavily indebted, with gross debt rising to almost €3.7 billion at the end of 2022.

TAP’s difficulties have prompted plenty of speculation about a possible investment by one of Europe’s big airline groups, with IAG seen as the likeliest candidate given its strong existing presence in the region with Spanish carriers Vueling and Iberia.

A merger would also create some interesting synergies between TAP M&E and Iberia Maintenance, both of which offer base maintenance for Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft and for CFM engines.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.