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Swooping on Brazil

Signs of economic recovery in South America’s largest economy should help boost cargo volumes. Ian Putzger looks at the potential growth in Brazil and across the region

Major international operators are pushing into Brazil’s airports. On 2 January of this year Fraport Brasil, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fraport AG, started operations at Fortaleza’s Pinto Martins International Airport and Salgado Filho International Airport in Porto Alegre.

Fraport took over operations at the two airports from state-owned Infraero, after the German outfit had won the bidding for the concessions at both airports in a public auction held last March. Alongside these two, Magalhães Airport in Salvador and Hercílio Luz Airport in Florianópolis went on the block in the third round of privatisation of Brazilian airports. Magalhães and Hercílio Luz were awarded to Vinci and Flughafen Zürich respectively.

The four airports, which account for 11.6% of Brazil’s passenger volume and 12.6% of the nation’s air cargo tonnage, went for a combined $1.19 billion.

Rio de Janeiro’s Jobim Galeão International Airport, one of the first three airports that were privatised, has also attracted foreign investment. The HNA Group made its first move into the Latin American market last summer with an agreement to buy a 60% stake in the airport for $18.8 million from Brazilian business conglomerate Odebrecht. As part of the deal, HNA Group agreed to sell 9% of its newly acquired stake to Changi Airports International.

The authorities – as well as the air cargo community in those locations – hope that the privatisation will boost the efficiency of the airports and lead to sustained growth in traffic. At Fortaleza and Porto Alegre, investments of R$600 million each ($186 million) are expected for infrastructure improvement and development projects over the duration of the concessions, which are for 30 years at Fortaleza and 25 years at Porto Alegre.

According to airline executives, the privatisation of Rio’s Jobim Galeão and the São Paulo pair of Guarulhos and Viracopos, has brought a stronger focus on cargo and raised the performance levels there.

“There have definitely been some improvements at the Brazilian airports, especially in communication,” comments Lorena Sandoval, Managing Director, Cargo for Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean at American Airlines.

Gunnar Löhr, Head of Region, South America at Lufthansa Cargo, also reports that performance and communication have become better. He adds that across South America airports have shown positive developments in the past year.

RIOgaleão, which operates Jobim Galeão, invested R$2 billion in its first two years of activity at the airport. To reflect the improvements, management decided to obtain official recognition of its standards and went for ISO 9001:2015 certification of its airport management quality – an unprecedented step among Brazilian airports.

Specifically, in the cargo arena the operator applied for CEIV certification to demonstrate an internationally acknowledged standard of capability to handle temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical cargo.

Airlines welcome such undertakings. “We want to expand our network of CEIV stations. It helps if an airport as a whole is certified,” comments Löhr. >>


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