Monday Roundup: TAP, Volotea, AirFrance, SAA, American…


AirFrance announced that its working with the government and unions to shed 7,600 jobs by 2024, as many as possible through natural wastage and voluntary redundancies.

The airline lost 95% of its revenue over the past three months and was loosing US$15m per day.

6,560 of the jobs will go from the 41,000 existing staff, by the end of 2022. Around 3,500 of those will be natural wasteage as people leave off their own volition.

The Hop! subsidiary will be further simplified – it will only be able to operate externally and to Corsica domestically by the end of 2024 anyway, as the government is banning all domestic flights where road and hi-speed rail offer suitable alternatives – which in France is virtually the entire mainland. Hop! will loose 1,020 jobs out of 2,420.

Currently around half of the AirFrance fleet is flying.

TAP Air Portugal

The Portuguese Government has injected another €55m into the airline to stave off bankruptcy. The state now owns 72.5% of the airline.

The ownership has been complicated, with David Neeleman’s group holding a large stake as much as 61%, but the government didn’t like it and he agreed to sell 22.5% back to them. Now the employees own 5% and industrialist Humberto Pedrosa 22.5% with the government owning the rest.

The effective re-nationalisation of the airline gives it access to a €1.2 billion government bailout fund.

The airline is still planning on more fleet reductions, having already disposed of all of its old A330’s.

SA Express

The airlines assets and aircraft are up for auction as it prepares to go into liquidation.

The government is still struggling to agree what will happen to SAA, but is slowly reaching a point where a new business will be created to operate limited domestic and regional flights, with key long haul to Washington DC, New York, London and Frankfurt. It probably won’t return to Beijing to start with.

Any new airline will have plenty of competition, with Qatar, Ethiopian, Emirates, BA Virgin Atlantic, American and Delta all operating flights to Johannesburg and some to Cape Town.

American moves

American Airlines, facing the semi-permanent closure of Terminal 3 at Heathrow (unlikely to open again for up to a year), has agreed with British Airways to use Terminal 5 indefinitely. Its been using T2 of late, but it makes sense with reduced BA activity, to use the space available at at 5B and 5C. Its possible Finnair, another OneWorld member may do the same.

T2 was primarily designed for Star Alliance, and American lost use of its Admirals Club in T3. Now it can use BA’s facilities.

In the meantime T3’s main airline, Virgin Atlantic, with their stunning Upper Class lounge at T3 closed, is also operating out of T2 for the time being.

In some respects it’s a pity that Heathrow doesn’t take this opportunity to demolish T3 now and get on with the redevelopment which would see it become an extension of T2. The famous ATC tower shown above is actually at the end of the pier normally used by Virgin Atlantic. Eventually there will only be two terminals at Heathrow (now 5 but extended) called West and The Queens Terminal, which will drop the T2. T4 is to be closed, and converted to cargo operations, T3 will be demolished and subsumed into The Queens Terminal.


Barcelona, Spain based Volotea is, like most of the European LCC’s, making every opportunity count, expanding to cover Italy, a market grossly underserved by its own airlines.

Its just opened its sixth base in the country, this time in Naples, with major holiday routes to Greece and dozens of domestic Italian routes on a daily basis.

Volotea is second only behind Wizz in exploiting the deficiencies of the legacy airlines. Evan Ryan Air and EasyJet seem stymied in some respects, seeming to lack flexibility.

Volotea was started by the original founder of Vueling, and is transitioning from the Boeing 717 to an all all A319 fleet. It’s reactivated all but 4 of its 34 aircraft fleet.