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Portuguese minister to meet SAirGroup chairman

Portugal's public works minister, Jorge Coelho, who is also responsible for transport policy, is to hold talks with SAirGroup chairman Eric Honegger next Thursday.

The meeting comes after SAirGroup – owner of Swissair – signalled a change of direction following the departure of its chief executive, Philippe Bruggisser on Tuesday.

Coelho intends to find out SAirGroup intends to ditch its share in TAP-Air Portugal. The Portuguese government has warned that it will seek damages if the Swiss airline company pulls out of a planned alliance with TAP-Air Portugal.

SAirGroup had agreed to pay 20 billion escudos (SFr154 million) for a 34 per cent stake in the loss-making Portuguese airline, but the deal was thrown into doubt on Tuesday when the company called a halt to all acquisitions in the airline sector.

Coehlo said that if SAirGroup reneged on the deal Portugal would seek compensation, although he did not say how much.

“An accord has been signed and those who do not honour accords are penalised,” he explained.

He also pointed out that if the deal collapsed, Portugal would seek other allies for its state carrier, either through a public tender or through a direct stake sale.

Speaking at a news conference in Zurich Tuesday, SAirGroup chairman Eric Honegger said he could not rule out the sale of some or all of the company’s minority stakes in foreign airlines, but he refused to comment on particular cases.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR