São Paulo Privatizes Five GA Airports

A contract signed on July 19 cedes five state-owned GA airports near the city of São Paulo to private consortium Voa São Paulo, a transfer attempted several times before. The airports are Campo dos Amarais airfield in Campinas, Jundiaí airport, Bragança Paulista, and the coastal airports of Itanhaem and Ubatuba. The lease amount of R$24,439,590 (US$7.75 million) was twice the minimum bid, and the contract also specifies R$93.6 million (US$30.55 million) for runway, ramp and access improvements at the airports, and hangar infrastructure at the Campinas airport.

Voa São Paulo president Othon Cesar Ribeiro told AIN, “We’ve been studying the airport concessions for four years, and we’re ready. Although the country is going through a difficult time, this was an opportunity, and even paying twice the minimum bid, the price is attractive. Jundiaí has had 11,000 flights a month, and now it’s only 6,500, down 40 percent.” Ribeiro is confident that traffic will return, citing the size of the country and the size of Brazil’s general aviation fleet, the world’s second-largest.

Ribeiro’s plans for the airports include developing airport real estate. While those plans include non-aviation uses such as hotels and outlet malls, he noted, “Eighty percent of the current revenue comes from rental from firms already established at the airports, and there is plenty of space for expansion without moving the current tenants…There are a lot of activities, such as propeller repair, that don’t need runway access, but DAESP [the state airport authority] put only the lots by the runways out to lease.”

He envisions the Bragança Paulista airport as a flight training center, and is especially interested in bringing in simulators, since ANAC‘s rules often require expensive overseas training. “Why don’t we have more companies offering this training here in our own country?” he asked, adding, “We’ll be at [the U.S. NBAA convention and trade show in Las Vegas] in October looking for foreign partners.”

For the Ubatuba airport on the coast close to the border with the state of Rio de Janeiro, he sees “the first airport in the region offering safe access even during abrupt meteorological changes, supporting Paraty and Angra dos Reis, too.” Rio airports are subject to the region’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Although the airport has only four acres of land, some of that is outside the flight path and would support a shopping center and a small hotel. The bid requires building an illuminated heliport, and Riberio also expressed the ambition to extend the 3,084-foot runway, which would require environmental permits, as it runs from the sea to wetlands.

The Voe SP consortium includes, among others, paving contractor Terracom Construções Ltda; MPE Engenharia e Serviços which already operates the Valença airport in the state of Bahia; and developer Nova Ubatuba, which Ribeiro describes as responsible for 30 percent of the city’s new development.


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