LISBON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The sale of Portuguese flag carrier TAP to a consortium led by American-Brazilian aviation tycoon David Neeleman in a privatisation this year has been approved, Portugal’s competition authority said on Friday.
The approval came just before Portugal holds a general election on Sunday. The main opposition Socialists, who are lagging in the polls, were against the sale of TAP.
The Atlantic Gateway consortium that won the privatisation is also made up of Portuguese bus company owner Humberto Pedrosa. Neeleman is CEO of Brazil’s Azul airline and the founder of U.S. JetBlue.
“The competition authority decided not to oppose the operation, considering that it does not create any significant obstacles to competition in the relevant markets,” the authority said in a statement.
The authority said none of the members of the consortium operate the same routes as TAP, nor is there a risk of elimination of competition on TAP’s routes to Brazil. TAP flies to 11 destinations in Brazil.
The consortium won the privatisation tender in June with a 10 million euro ($11.3 million) cash payment and a promise to injection 338 million euros in capital. It will also take on TAP’s debt of about 1 billion euros. ($1 = 0.8883 euros) (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; writing by Axel Bugge; editing by David Clarke)