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More senior Portuguese officials resign over state-owned airline scandal

Portuguese Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos (second right), together with then US secretary of state for energy Dan Brouillette (center), visit the LNG Liquified Natural Gas Terminal at Sines seaport in Sines, on Feb 12, 2020. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

LISBON – Portuguese Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Pedro Nuno Santos presented his resignation to Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Wednesday, after a secretary of state resigned for receiving hefty dismissal pay from the state-owned airline TAP.

Secretary of State for the Treasury, Alexandra Reis, accepted 500,000 euros ($530,000) from TAP for her early dismissal from her post as executive director but continued to work for the Portuguese government, which provoked strong criticism as the airline is experiencing various financial problems and repeated strikes due to salary cuts.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa confirmed that he had already accepted Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Pedro Nuno Santos' resignation, expressing "public gratitude for the dedication and commitment" of Pedro Nuno Santos in "carrying out governmental functions over these seven years"

The compensation has come under fire as the airline, which is subject to intervention by the Portuguese government, is experiencing severe financial problems and repeated strikes by employees due to salary cuts.

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Reis was dismissed from her government post just 25 days after taking office. Her sacking represents the eighth change to the current Portuguese government, whose term began in March 2022 under the leadership of Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Pedro Nuno Santos said in a press release that he is stepping down from office to "assume political responsibility in the face of the public perception and collective sentiment generated around this case."

Costa confirmed that he had already accepted the resignation, expressing "public gratitude for the dedication and commitment" of Pedro Nuno Santos in "carrying out governmental functions over these seven years."

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In addition, the secretary of state for infrastructure, Hugo Mendes, also resigned.