Brazil and its potential for cargo growth was a major discussion topic during conference sessions at Air Cargo Americas in Miami in November.
Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) is back in the cargo business, according to Antonio Miguel Marques, president of the Invepar-ACSA consortium that is the concessionary for GRU. Improved road and airport infrastructure in Brazil over the past couple of years has established a foundation for future cargo growth.
Marques says the airport hopes to attract more dedicated cargo carriers in the coming years.
“We have just one pure cargo flight per week,” Marques says. “All of the rest of the cargo comes from bellies. We’re handling almost 40 percent of the total air cargo going to Brazil with just one cargo flight. We are leading a transformation process at our airport, building new runways and a new apron. It will alleviate a major bottleneck we had.”
During the first half of 2013, pharmaceuticals were the main air cargo import product at GRU, accounting for 51 percent of the total. Machinery was second with 14 percent, followed by electronics with 8 percent and automotive with 6 percent.
Marques says the recent privatization of airports is allowing cargo development at GRU, following a period when “pure cargo” planes were diverted to Viracopos-Campinas International Airport in Campinas, Brazil. He says privatization is resulting in a transformation of the industry.
“After the privatization, these restrictions were removed, and GRU is back in the cargo business,” Marques says. “Brazil is a fast-growing market. We will reach 200 million people this year, and our middle class is growing fast. Poverty is going down dramatically, and people are starting to buy.”
Marques notes that there are 200 flights a month from Brazil to Miami. He says that while the country’s internal market is massive, Brazil remains small in terms of international trade. He says GRU is the largest airport in the Southern Hemisphere, handling 36 million passengers last year and has experienced growth of more than 10 percent this year. GRU also has the largest air cargo terminal in Latin America with 97,000 square meters (1,044,690 square feet) of covered space.
Air charter specialist Chapman Freeborn also sees opportunity for growth in Brazil and other South American countries. In another conference session on Latin America, Reto Hunziker, group cargo director for Chapman Freeborn, says several nations offer potential for cargo growth.
“I recently arrived in Sao Paulo, and all the Middle East carriers were there. All of the Chinese carriers were there,” Hunziker says. “We just invested in the region. We have reorganized our office in Sao Paulo, and we have about 10 people working there. We are more focused on domestic stuff in Brazil and from Brazil to other South American countries. We see growing demand in countries like Peru and Colombia.”
Hunziker also notes that Venezuela offers potential, but the political situation makes it difficult to operate there.