SEVERAL large international firms on Monday entered the race to operate two airports in Brazil, a government official told Reuters, a sign of interest from global players even as air traffic in the country slows from years of double-digit growth.
Five groups presented proposals to operate Rio de Janeiro's Galeao airport. Of those three are also vying for the concession of Belo Horizonte's Confins airport, said the source, who asked for anonymity to speak freely.
The government is expected on Friday to award the concession of the airports, which are some of busiest in the country.
Spain's Ferrovial, the operator of London's Heathrow airport, and Brazilian engineering firm Queiroz Galvao created a consortium to bid for Rio de Janeiro's Galeao airport. French and Dutch operator Aeroports de Paris and Schiphol teamed up with Brazil's Carioca Engenharia to bid for the same airport.
Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht and Singapore's Changi Airport Group will bid for both airports.
President Dilma Rousseff has opened up public infrastructure projects to private investors in a bid to lift stagnant investment and get the country ready for the thousands of tourists expected for next year's soccer World Cup and the Summer Olympics in 2016.
Last year her government successfully auctioned the rights to operate three large airports that had bids from 11 consortia. However, she was criticized for awarding those concessions to operators of small terminals.
This time around there were fewer bidders for Galeao and Confins, but they are larger companies with more experience operating big airports, the source said.
Brazil's civil aviation authority said in December that it expected bids to be worth a total of 11.4 billion reais (US$5.01 billion) for the two airports.
A sharp slowdown in air traffic in Brazil in the last few years has forced local airliners to cut workers and cap expansion plans.
Still, Brazil will remain one of the most dynamic aviation markets with air traffic expected to grow above the world's average in coming decades, according to forecasts by planemaker Airbus.