TAP Passenger Numbers Up 7 Pct In 2011

January 4, 2012

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TAP, Portugal's flag carrier, said passenger numbers rose 7 percent last year to 9.75 million, a record.

TAP, expected to post a full-year loss, also said on Wednesday its seat occupancy rate rose 1.8 percentage points in 2011 to 76.3 percent.

"TAP transported in 2011 9.75 million passengers and registered an occupancy rate of 76.3 percent, which makes last year the best ever for the company in terms of these two indicators," TAP said.

In December, chief executive Fernando Pinto said the airline was likely to end 2011 with a loss after a record profit of EUR€62 million in 2010 due to a 40 percent surge in fuel costs.

The government has promised to sell TAP, possibly this year, under the terms of a EUR€78 billion EU/IMF bailout.

International Airlines Group (IAG), formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, said in October it would look at TAP when the Portuguese government starts the formal sale process, its Brazilian routes being of particular interest to IAG.

Brazil's TAM is also seen as a possible bidder for TAP.

(Reuters)