‘Re-privatisation is not on the table’ – (Pedro Nuno Santos, Minister of Infrastructure)

TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses) was created in 1945 and nationalised in 1975. During the financial crisis, the center-right government of Pedro Passos Coelho decided in June 2015 to sell the company to the AtlanticGateway consortium (David Neeleman in partnership with Humberto Pedrosa), which took control of 61% of the carrier’s capital.

In the summer of 2020 – amidst the Covid pandemic – the center-left government of Antonio Costa took back a controlling stake of 72.5% in its technical bankrupt flagship TAP. ‘The national airline is too important for the economy, our territorial continuity – with Madeira and the Azores – and the connection to the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and South America to let it fall’, the prime minister declared that time.

After the European Commission approved 1.2 billion state support to TAP, the government had to present a restructuring plan to convince Brussels that the airline had future viability, in the meantime forced to implement austerity measures, such as a 16% reduction in workers and planes.

More than one year later – in late December 2021 – TAP finally received its much wanted Christmas present from Brussels: the approval for the government’s 2.55 billion euros restructuring package. However not without conditions.

The airline had to drop 18 slots per day (authorizations for landings and departures) – implicating the loss of over 6000 flights per year, get rid of its loss-making maintenance center in Brazil, and dispose of Groundforce, the luggage handling company.

The Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Union (Sitema) is happy with the decision as it ‘restores some of the calm that has been withheld from the workers since the austerity measures started’. The Union is especially interested in understanding the impacts for the technicians of the provision of 18 slots at Lisbon airport to other airlines’.

The president of the Porto Commercial Association meanwhile stated that the approval of the plan is bad news as a fully nationalized TAP ‘will cost the Portuguese taxpayers at least 3.2 billion euros (bearing in mind the hundreds of millions of state support already given during the pandemic). The money could be better spent on the ailing national health service’, he added.

Most of the Portuguese people – recently interviewed by the Catholic University – also disagree with the State’s intervention in TAP to save the airline, at the same time not supporting the construction of a new airport in the Lisbon region. An interesting finding a few weeks before the legislative elections on January 30.

Enjoy the New Year         Aproveite o Ano Novo       (pic Público/Ptnews)

‘Nothing about women without us’ – Xiomara Castro, President of Honduras

Despite low healthy life expectancy in later life, barriers in career progression, underpayment, increased unemployment, and a substantial risk of becoming a victim of gender-based violence – as discussed before – there are also some positive developments as far as Portuguese women are concerned. 

Women represent almost 50% of the authors of scientific articles in Portugal, placing the country in Europe at the forefront of the reduction of the gender gap in research.

Although women make up more than half of the doctorates, scientists, and engineers and – according to Census 21 – 60% of the professionals with training and tertiary employment, they still represent less than 30% of the Heads of Institutions in Higher Education and less than 15% of Executive Board Members in the country’s 50 biggest companies.

Women’s meat diets are responsible for less climate-heating emissions than those of men, according to a UK study published in the Guardian. One found animal products (mainly meat and dairy) were responsible for almost half of the diet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Men’s diets cause 40% more greenhouse gas emissions, largely due to eating more meat. One can speculate that it could be because men generally eat more food than women or that men may eat more traditional meat-based diets.

But maybe the best news for the empowerment of women last year was the marketing of a new brand of virgin olive oil called Clítoris, a name most probably deriving from the Greek kleitoris  (‘small hill’). The designer – whose family owns a 40-hectare property in Oliveira do Hospital – told Centro TV that ‘olive oil is all about pleasure’ and that the longitudinal cut of an olive reminded him of that vital part of the female anatomy.

FELIZ ANO NOVO         HAPPY NEW YEAR                  (pic Público/Sapo)