This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 8/10/2017

Brazil recently concluded a round of airport concessions that signals exciting opportunities for U.S. companies interested in partaking in the expansion of the country’s system of airports. While most of the large international airport concessions have already taken place, many opportunities (particularly in regional airport development) will become available as Brazil works to meet demand for travel.
Decision makers realize the urgent need to expand and modernize the country’s airports and are responding accordingly. As of April 2017, the government of Brazil has privatized nine of the country’s busiest airports, four of which were conceded in the most recent round of auctions in March 2017. The funds generated by auctioning these airports are being reinvested in the modernization of regional airports. Both the privatization and investment in regional airports is creating significant opportunities for U.S. airport suppliers of services and equipment. Even with a sluggish economy, the development in Brazil’s airports is noteworthy.
The Brazilian Civil Aviation Secretariat (SAC) predicts that the domestic segment needs to triple in size within the next 20 years, however, investments made by Infraero (the federal agency in charge of airport operations) have not matched the ever-increasing number of passengers. Major airports in Brazil have reached critical utilization levels, and it is clear that large amounts of capital must be invested quickly in order to ease the burden of running over capacity and allow the segment to grow with demand.
With nine important airports privatized and master-planning currently underway, the airport industry is a potentially lucrative area for U.S. suppliers in a wide range of airport-related technologies and services. Additional airport concessions are expected in the future, likely in the capital cities of Goiâna, Recife, and Vitória, according to Brazil’s Planning Minister Dyogo Oliveira.
Recent Concessions
In June of 2015, Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff announced plans to continue modernizing and expanding Brazil’s airports as part of Brazil’s Logistics Investment Program (PIL). In 2016, when Michel Temer became president, he created the Investment Partenship Program (PPI) also known as Projeto Crescer (Project Growth).  Housed within the Office of the President, Projeto Crescer prioritizes federal infrastructure projects and coordinates the work of all of the ministries and agencies involved in the process.  In a break from past practice, Projeto Crescer has also taken a more market based approach to PPPs and concessions, responding to past private sector complaints about the concession process.  The first round of concessions under the new project banner were held in the first quarter of 2017 and included four critical international airports: Fortaleza, Florianopolis, Porto Alegre, and Salvador. The full list of PPI projects under Projeto Crescer is located here.
Bid winners have responsibility for refurbishing and maintaining the newly privatized airports. The actual investment raised by the auction exceeded the US$967 million expected by the government, totaling US$ 1.2 billion. All of the airport rights were purchased at a premium: US$212 million for Salvador (113 percent above minimum initial fee), US$93 million in Porto Alegre (837 percent above minimum initial fee), US$137 million for Fortaleza (18 percent above minimum initial fee), and US$30 million in Florianopolis (57 percent above minimum initial fee). On average, the purchase price was 23 percent above the minimum initial fee. The winning companies have committed to additional investments in the infrastructure of those airports totaling over US$2.12 billion over 10 years, tied to increases in passenger levels. 
Due to its focus on market forces dicting rates of return and investment commitments, in contrast to the previous round of concessions, under the PPI/Crescer model the government was able to attract investors with extensive experience in airport management. Germany's Frankfurt-based Fraport that runs Delhi (India), Lima (Peru), and St. Petersburg (Russia) won the Fortaleza and Porto Alegre concessions. Swiss Zurich, which runs the Zurich airport and Confins (Belo Horizonte), in partnership with CCR, took Florianópolis. Finally, French operator Vinci, which operates the airports of Lisbon and Porto (Portugal), Santiago (Chile), and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) made the winning offer for Salvador.
The implications for this round of concessions extend beyond the parties directly involved. On a larger scale, many view it as a confidence test between the market and the current government of Brazil. Based upon the success of the concessions, there is great hope for the future of the Brazilian market and air transportation within the country. Though the specific airports have not yet been selected, at least ten additional airports are being considered for future concession contracts.
Regional Airports
In August 2016, the Temer government decided to drastically cut Brazil’s federal aviation investment program launched by outgoing President Dilma Rousseff, reducing the number of airports that will undergo expansion works in the future from 270 to 53.
The regional aviation development plan was launched at the end of 2012. At the time, the initial plan called for investments in about 800 small and medium airports, but ended up being reduced to 270 regional airports and heliports. Upon completion of the program, the GOB’s goal was for 96 percent of the country’s population to live less than 100 kilometers away from an airport.
The estimated investment at the time was US$2.3 billion, but almost nothing has been done over these past years. According to the Minister of Transportation, Civil Aviation and Ports, Maurício Quintella Lessa, the new list is "much more realistic" and appropriate given the current financial situation of the federal government. The new plan will require US$774 million in investments in 53 airports by 2020, and resources will come from the National Civil Aviation Fund
In addition to the 53 airports, the GOB has a list of another 123 that could receive investments as the country´s economic situation improves or if the states assume control over the projects.
Of the airports that will receive investments, 27 currently receive flights. Another 11 are on a list that the Brazilian Airline Association (ABEAR) published in 2012, calling for prioritization of resources due to strong potential demand. According to Minister Quintella, the choice of airports was made in agreement with the states, congress, and airlines. Minister Lessa also said that the government will require cities to offer (at the signing of contracts) guarantees that local laws will preserve areas around airports in order to avoid leaving terminals unused in the future due to inadequate construction.
U.S. Mission Role in Brazilian Airport Modernization
In May 2014 and 2015, the U.S. Commercial Service partnered with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to host an Aviation Trade Mission and a Brazilian Airport Roadshow for American suppliers of airport equipment and services. The U.S. Commercial Service also provided a series of webinars addressing current airport and aviation market opportunities in Brazil.
According to ANAC (National Agency of Civil Aviation), consumer air travel between the U.S. and Brazil grew 9.4 percent annually from 2005-2015, more than doubling in size over the period (146 percent of cumulative growth). As a result, the U.S. FAA has an established an office in Brazil to work closely with local officials in order to ensure the safety and security of U.S. passengers and develop an efficient air transportation network between the two countries. Through the U.S.-Brazil Aviation Partnership, and in coordination with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, (USTDA), the FAA coordinates training programs and workshops between the U.S. and Brazil on a variety of aviation topics.
USTDA hosts a very active program with the Brazilian Aviation Authorities known as the US-Brazil Aviation Partnership. The Partnership allows the U.S. and Brazilian governments to develop structured bilateral activities (e.g. conferences, strategic dialogues) which support the development of a modern airport infrastructure in Brazil. It also promotes a fair and open trade environment in the airport industry.
Through the Partnership, USTDA works with Brazilian entities such as Infraero, SAC, ANAC, and the U.S. private sector to host technical workshops encompassing topics such as Olympic Games preparations, regional airports, and the Open Skies Agreement. USTDA also conducts studies with the aim of creating market opportunities for U.S. companies.
The economic outlook for 2017 in Brazil continuous to improve, as analysts predict some growth is likely for Brazil’s airlines after two years of great difficulty in 2015 and 2016. This was largely due to the current economic recession, with recent growth outlooks forecasted at one percent. Further complicating the situation, Brazil is dealing with one of the largest corruption scandals in its history. Although the origin of the scandal is in the oil and gas sector, many of the engineering and construction firms that are being investigated have contracts across multiple sectors, including stakes in the country’s existing airport consortia.

Leading Sub-Sectors

The aviation sub-sector is a very dynamic segment in the Brazilian aviation industry, demanding services and training which includes the following segments:

  • highly skilled and technical roles, such as pilots and air traffic control
  • customer service roles, including passenger check in and support, terminal and airport management and cabin crew
  • ground services undertaking tasks, such as baggage and cargo handling, aircraft preparation and flight planning


Brazil’s airport infrastructure upgrades present significant business opportunities for U.S. companies. In addition to providing design and consultancy services, concessions winners are also purchasing products such as passenger bridges, docking systems, baggage handling systems, handling equipment, check-in conveyors, x-ray integration, baggage claim carousels, x-ray machines and other safety and security equipment.
Companies with know-how in the areas of airport management and operations are welcome to establish partnerships with local Brazilian companies and are encouraged to participate in future privatization auctions. To succeed in Brazil, U.S. manufacturers must either be established in the country or have a well-informed local representative. Much like in other sectors in Brazil, it is important to have a distributor or system integrator that can offer post-sale and maintenance services, replacement parts, and repairs. Whether introducing a product to the market independently or entering with an existing local partner, it is necessary to have a coherent market entry strategy to penetrate the Brazilian airport industry.
For U.S. investors, the Brazilian government has indicated that upcoming airport concessions will offer more flexibility for companies interested in investing in Brazil. In indeed, airport concessions have being attracting consistent investment, as market research indicates that Brazil will continue to have growth in passenger demand.

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