Brazil's first airport concession takes off

Four groups participated in an auction for the Natal airport, with the winning bid, worth $106m, fielded by an Argentine-Brazilian consortium. Airports in Brasilia and São Paulo are next in line for privatisation.

A consortium comprised of Argentine concessionaire Corporación América and Brazilian engineering company Grupo Engevix has won the concession to partially construct, maintain and operate the São Gonçalo do Amarante Airport, marking the first in a potentially long string of Brazilian airport privatisations.

The winning team, known as Inframérica, won the 27-year concession contract with a final bid of R$170 million (€73.7 million; $106.1 million). Inframérica will have to invest R$650 million in construction of a terminal at the airport as well as in maintaining and operating it, according to a spokesperson from the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC), Brazil’s civil aviation regulator.

Four groups participated in the auction for São Gonçalo do Amarante Airport, located in Brazil’s north-east Rio Grande do Norte state, which had a starting bid of R$51.7 million, ANAC said. The number of bids for the airport totalled 88, ANAC added.

Inframérica will have three years to complete construction of the airport and a 25-year operating period. The concession contract could be renewed for a maximum of five additional years and then the airport will return to public control.  

The ANAC spokesperson said the auction represents the first concession of a Brazilian airport to a private company. The next airports under consideration are Brasília; Guarulhos, in São Paulo; and Viracopos, also in São Paulo.

São Gonçalo do Amarante Airport will replace the existing Augusto Severo de Natal International Airport and may be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil is hosting. The new airport expects up to three million passengers in 2014, 4.7 million in 2020 and 7.9 million in 2030, according to ANAC.

Corporación América has also recently responded to a request for qualifications for the potential privatisation of Luis Munos Marin International Airport near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Grupo Engevix is controlled by Jackson Empreendimentos.