Monocolumn: Business Jets: No Room To Spread Their Wings?

The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) in São Paulo is the second largest corporate jet fair in the world (after Geneva’s EBACE) and, like everything in Brazil, it’s growing.

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Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) in São Paulo is the second largest corporate jet fair in the world (after Geneva’s EBACE) and, like everything in Brazil, it’s growing. Brazil’s business jet fleet is the second fastest growing after China, but the country’s aviation infrastructure is being tested to its limit.

While GDP is growing at more than 6 per cent a year, the aviation market grew 27 per cent last year. Combined with the growth of Brazilian multinational companies, business jets are fighting for room, as space and money is given to the commercial airline sector. Francisco Lyra, president of the Brazilian Association of General Aviation (ABAG), which organises LABACE, is frank about the problems. “The government and regulatory agencies aren’t on our side. They say ‘how can we protect you if the best public interest is with the commercial airline business?’” he says. A recent Mckinsey report funded by the government suggested moving all jet traffic from the main airports to a regional one two hours away from São Paulo, defeating the object of time-saving inherent in business aviation.

ABAG is lobbying the government to allow a new, private-sector-funded airport just outside São Paulo, handling only business flights, but it’s a struggle.

The issue isn’t just bureaucracy – it’s also about image. “We failed to spread the wider message that a business jet isn’t just a symbol of wealth, it’s a vital business tool for spreading wealth,” says Lyra. “The benefit is far greater to a nation’s economy than it is to the individual. China gets this – they’re building 50 airports at the same time. Brazil is building none.”

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