Embraer calls for green slot in Congonhas airport

Congonhas presenteia viajantes com apresentação de jazz

Embraer will take a stance in the public consultation opened by the National Agency of Civil Aviation (ANAC) to establish new rules for the distribution of operating authorizations (slots) in congested airports. The world’s leading regional jet planemaker will defend that sustainability criteria, such as reduction of carbon emissions and aircraft noise, are taken into account in the process. Today, the only terminal that would fit the congested airport criterion to be modeled (called level 4) is the Congonhas terminal, in São Paulo.

The company also believes that this revision of the rules must include mechanisms that encourage the opening of new regional routes, reversing the trajectory of concentration of destinations seen in the last two decades. Across the country, according to Embraer, regional aviation served 130 cities in the early 2000s. Today, there are just over 100 locations — in Congonhas, the number of routes was reduced to 36 from 38.

“They could be green, sustainable slots that encourage regional aviation,” said Rodrigo Silva e Souza, head of market intelligence for commercial aviation at Embraer. The current rules, based on competition, aircraft size and operation, encourage the use of larger planes, with a reflection on the concentration of routes to the most popular destinations.

According to Mr. Souza, the current rules are also outdated in relation to what is seen in other key airports – London City Airport, for instance, has imposed strict restrictions on noise emissions. In Congonhas, 41 slots that belonged to bankrupt Avianca will be redistributed, in addition to additional authorizations foreseen with the privatization of the terminal.

Discussions about the new coordination rule is expected to be intense. Under the terms proposed by Embraer, it would tend to favor a certain type of aircraft — the Brazilian company’s E-Jets E2 or Boeing’s 737 Max, for example — and airlines that operate these models, such as Azul Linhas Aéreas. Embraer’s E-Jets E2 are considered the most efficient and sustainable narrow-body commercial jets in the world, and Azul was the first company to receive the E195-E2 in 2019.

Thiago Nykiel, CEO and founding partner of the consultancy specialized in civil aviation Infraway Engenharia, said that it is inherent to the industry to seek increasingly higher levels of efficiency, resulting in more sustainable operations. Therefore, there would be no need for a specific rule. “A regulatory measure of this nature [which associates efficiency and slot distribution] can impose additional costs on the industry and even create barriers to entry for new players,” he says.

For Mr. Nykiel, the objective criterion to be considered in slot coordination is system efficiency. “This does not prevent us from having a sustainable agenda. But, first, it is necessary to coordinate with the entire industry,” he said.

The discussion tends to add spice to the already fierce competition for space in Congonhas. The consultation runs until mid-December. Today, Latam has a historic right to operate in the winter season (which began in October) with 236.2 slots, or 43.99%. The company is followed by Gol, with 234.2 slots, or 43.61%. Azul has 43 slots, and Itapemirim, two.

However, due to the pandemic, Gol and Latam temporarily conceded some of their slots, which ended with Itapemirim and Total, two newcomers to the terminal. Itapemirim won Anac’s endorsement for ten daily slots as of November 3, increasing to 14 slots in December. Total will have 12 starting on January 29.

Among the points of the proposal under debate is a rule for the distribution of slots with a maximum market share limit of 40% per company. According to the rule to be studied, Gol and Latam would be left out of new divisions for having already surpassed the level, but they would not lose what is above the limit.

What is closely monitored, however, is the expansion of the terminal’s capacity – with more slots, the amount in these companies’ hands would be diluted and, thus, they could receive more.

In today’s scenario, however, Azul, Itapemirim and Total should benefit more in the distribution of Avianca slots, as they are new entrants. The preliminary division, in 2019, gave 12 slots to MAP, 14 to Passaredo (the two are Voepass) and 15 to Azul. TwoFlex, bought by Azul in 2020, also won 14 slots in the secondary runway at the time.

The competition is such that it led Gol to make an offer to buy MAP and, with that, take all the slots that are currently in Voepass’s hand (24). There is a lot of challenge ahead, however. The first is that Voepass lost four slots in the so-called winter season for not complying with the rules for using slots in 2019.

According to sources familiar with the deal, Gol theoretically has not bought MAP yet. The announcement was made, but through a conditioning operation, that is, the number of slots agreed upon must exist for the deal to take place. How many slots will actually fall under Voepass’s power is still unclear, as there are at least two entrants (Itapemirim and Total) that were not in the scene when the first deal was made.

In a note, ANAC said it expects to publish rules for new slots in the first half of 2022.

Source: Valor international