Air France KLM CEO, Ben Smith, told press at the Iata AGM in Istanbul this week that the airline group remained interested in acquiring Portuguese carrier TAP, and that TAP’s Brazilian presence was a key factor.
Simple Flying reports that TAP currently operates flights from Lisbon to more than 10 destinations in Brazil. The Air France-KLM Group serves only three – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza.
Brazilian aviation has reached 82% of its pre-pandemic traffic over the past financial year. Of the 97.85 million passengers in Brazil last year, 15.62m were international travellers, and TAP carried 10% of them – 1.59 million, second only to LATAM Brasil which carried 2.49 million.
Last month, Smith spoke of AF-KLM’s interest in the Portuguese carrier, saying: “TAP has a very strong position geographically at the southernmost point in Europe towards South America, and they do have a very strong network to Brazil, with 11 cities online non-stop out of Lisbon.”
Smith also said at the AGM that AF-KLM was shopping for replacements for 20-year-old Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s. It has already retired its fleet of Boeing 747s and A380s and added more modern B787 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s. The evaluation process for new aircraft now includes the additional requirement of having to circumnavigate Russian airspace after the Ukraine invasion. Smith said this detour could add several hours to a flight and it had changed aircraft requirements.