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‘Stable solution’ for Portugal’s TAP expected soon, PM…

LISBON, July 1 – Portugal expects to announce a “stable solution” for flag carrier TAP soon, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday, a day after another government minister did not rule out nationalization of the airline.

Weekly newspaper Expresso reported on Tuesday that the government would submit a decree to the country’s president to nationalize TAP after failing to agree with TAP’s private shareholders Atlantic Gateway on a 1.2 billion euro ($1.34 billion) state rescue loan.

“I’m sure that, if not today, in the coming days, we will have a solution,” Costa told a news conference. “If I had to make a bet, I would say today.”

He did not provide further details.

Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos had said at a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday talks were still under way, but nationalization could not be ruled out.

“If private (shareholders) do not accept the conditions of the Portuguese state, we have to intervene in the company, nationalize,” Santos said at the hearing. He also said that the government was “prepared for everything” as it would be an “economic and social disaster” if Portugal lost TAP.

The Portuguese state holds 50% of TAP and Atlantic Gateway has 45% of the airline, which has suffered heavy losses due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Atlantic Gateway partners were not available for comment.

TAP reported a first-quarter net loss of 395 million euros mainly due to coronavirus lockdowns that halted most air travel. (Reporting by Catarina Demony, Sergio Goncalves, Editing by Andrei Khalip and Jane Merriman)

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