Brazil’s business aviation community convened for its 10th annual LABACE show in São Paulo yesterday in the belief that their government is finally paying attention to their crying need for access to the right infrastructure. But in a keynote address here at Congonhas Airport, Eduardo Marson, chairman of industry group ABAG, warned that the sector is still under pressure from the threat of being squeezed by commercial airline activity.
One of ABAG’s key allies, Brazilian civil aviation minister Moreira Franco, was unable to be present as planned for the LABACE 2013 opening ceremony due to last-minute political commitments. But Marcelo Guraranys, president of national civil aviation agency ANAC, was present and he claimed that the authorities do now have a more positive view of business aviation. “For us, business aviation is what propels aviation, and in the coming years we are focusing our efforts at a change in paradigm,” he told AIN.
Marson outlined the threat posed to business aviation by recent moves to usurp long-standing occupancy of key airport locations by charter operators, maintenance providers and other general aviation users. He was quick to praise Franco for standing up for ABAG’s members in this regard, pointing to a recent victory in overturning plans by airport agency Ifraero to open up occupancy of hangar and ramp space to new bidders.
“He received us in his office with his team and accepted a joint statement signed by ABAG and [air taxi syndicate] SNETA suggesting that the use of airport space be [guaranteed for business aviation users] for a 25-year period, renewable for 10 years if investment were required by the user and 10-plus-10 years if not, with preference given to the current occupant,” explained Marson. “To our great happiness, the next day Infraero’s plan to put the spaces out to public bid was suspended.”
Despite the promise of new business airports in Brazil, Marson insisted that business aviation must continue to have assured access to the country’s main airports. “I’m happy that these initiatives are receiving approval from the Secretariat of Civil Aviation,” he said. “But the central airports are part of the aviation system, and general aviation is part of the system, too, and needs access to the central airports, just like it does in other countries.”
The ABAG leader also called on ANAC to change its structure to be more responsive to the needs of general aviation users. In particular, he called for a new system to allow operators and other companies to track the status of formal requests they have made to the agency.
The construction of privately operated business aviation airports is a prominent topic at this year’s LABACE show. The exhibition hall features an enormous model of the new Catarina Executive Airport in nearby São Roque, which received federal approval yesterday. The model is being displayed by developer JHSF, and several São Roque local officials have come to the show to see business aviation first-hand. The Aerovale Airport that is proposed to be built near São Jose does Campos, home to Brazil’s business jet builder Embraer, also is at LABACE in model form.
São Paulo state finance secretary Andrea Calabi told the LABACE opening session that he is pressing hard for clearance to announce a date to issue a privatization process for five airports and he said authorities are eager to see more public/private partnerships on airports. He indicated that aviation can expect to see a significant uptick in infrastructure investment.
This year’s ABAG prize awarded for “dedication, professionalism and actions advancing general aviation” was given to Air Force Commandant Brigadier Juniti Saito yesterday. Marson praised him for being a regular LABACE participant and for standing up for aviation’s corner at government meetings.
Brigadier Saito proclaimed his faith in general aviation and its importance to Brazil. He pointed out that the country has more than 700 airports, of which only 150 are served by commercial flights. “General aviation provides the system’s access to hundreds of outlying areas,” he declared.