At press time the inaugural Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) was still officially scheduled for January 16 to 18 in Saõ Paulo, Brazil, but NBAA said it was giving serious consideration to changing the show’s date, a move prompted by the country’s presidential election next month and the expected formation of a new national civil aviation agency, which the association said needs time “to become fully established.”
“We are anticipating a new date for LABACE, which would be the end of March, to give us time to see what happens with the very important election that takes place in October,” said NBAA president Jack Olcott. In an NBAA member newsletter the association also cited the creation of the new Brazilian CAA as a reason for the planned date change.
Brazil has approved a law that will lead to the formation of a national civil aviation agency to replace the Department of Civil Aviation, which is dominated by the Brazilian military. The new government-run entity will remain under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian ministry of defense, but it will be financially autonomous. The Brazilian senate is expected to pass legislation authorizing the agency later this year.
Separately, the turbulent Brazilian election, which the leftist opposition has a good chance of winning, has been a major concern for international investors, who worry that the country’s troubled economy could deteriorate and become another Argentina, which is now in the grip of its worst economic crisis in decades. Despite the uncertainty, NBAA and ABAG, Brazil’s business aviation association, say LABACE is a go.
Finally, many have voiced apprehension about LABACE because of security concerns in Saõ Paulo. The city’s jammed streets have given criminals ample targets for carjackings and kidnappings, which have risen at an alarming rate, according to security experts and the U.S. State Department. In a recent report assessing safety in Saõ Paulo, the State Department said carjackings “may occur both day and night, even in safer sections of the city.”
Asked about security for the show, Olcott said NBAA and ABAG are “very aware of the concerns,” adding that the convention headquarters hotel is co-joined with the convention center, and that the aircraft static display, some 15 mi away, would be reached primarily by helicopter.
Brazil’s helicopter fleet is one of the largest in the world. The country now has a private helicopter fleet of nearly 900 ships, many of which fly Brazilian businessmen every day over the Saõ Paulo metropolitan area, between their luxury high-rises and office buildings.