SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s infrastructure minister said on Monday the country still wants to privatize 43 airports through 2022, even as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the air transportation industry.
Minister Tarcisio Freitas also said the government’s plan to revive economic activity after the pandemic forecasts 30 billion reais ($5.5 billion) in public investment in infrastructure. Freitas spoke during a webcast hosted by Banco Santander (MC:SAN) Brasil SA.
The licenses to operate 22 airports were initially expected to be auctioned this year, but private investors asked for a delay in the process to try to estimate future demand, he said. Now these auctions are expected for March 2021, according to the minister.
There will be a second phase with 21 airports, including some that have the highest traffic, which licenses will be auctioned in 2022.
Although current airports operators are asking for reductions in payments to the government due to the drastic drop in demand, Freitas said he expects the auctions to be successful.
Freitas also mentioned the abandoned deal between Boeing Co (N:BA) and Embraer SA (SA:EMBR3), saying the government is considering further measures to help the air transportation sector and indirectly help Embraer. Freitas mentioned the bailout to airlines Azul SA (N:AZUL), Latam Airlines Group SA (SN:LTM) and Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes (SA:GOLL4).
Freitas still hopes to auction the pulp export terminals at Santos, the largest port in Latin America, expected for August. He predicted an auction to operate the Fiol railway, in the northeastern state of Bahia will take place at the end of 2020, while Rumo SA (SA:RAIL3) is expected to renew its license to operate railway Malha Paulista on Wednesday.
Brazil still plans to privatize 43 airports through 2022: minister
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