Lufthansa has suggested that it is more interested in having Portugal’s national carrier, TAP, remain as an Alliance Partner rather than a division of Lufthansa. During a press conference today in Lisbon, Lufthansa’s director for operations in Spain and Portugal, Stephan Semsch suggested that any interest in TAP as an acquisition would be speculation at this point.

Last week, a Lufthansa spokesman suggested that Lufthansa would be interested in acquiring TAP as it looks to improve penetration into South American routes. Portugal’s Government, the majority stakeholder, is hoping to privatize TAP this year.

Over the last few days, Avianca and IAG (British Airways/Iberia) have also tossed their hats into the ring with their desire to explore potential offers for TAP. It will be interesting to see if Lufthansa is playing a “cool hand” and trying not to stoke up a bidding war, but I’m thinking they don’t want IAG to swoop in and pick up TAP either.

No doubt these are only the opening gambits……