Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, under siege over late preparations for the soccer World Cup that starts in June, at last has something to celebrate.
The first of a series of major infrastructure programmes promised to the Brazilian public as part of the tournament has finally been inaugurated – or at least “the first phase of the first phase” of the project. On Wednesday, Ms Rousseff presided over the opening of a new terminal at the international airport in the capital, Brasília.
It’s turning out to be one good week for Brazil-Africa relations.
The latest sign of the ever cosier relationship came on Tuesday from Brazil’s budget airline Gol, which said it had received the go-ahead from regulators for three weekly flights to Nigeria.
After so much bad news in the past few months, such as huge net losses, increases in fuel prices and a weakening of the currency, Brazilian airlines finally have something to celebrate, however small.
The government of the capital district of Brasília has announced a cut in the so-called ICMS services tax on aviation fuel from 25 per cent to 12 per cent, which would represent a tax waiver estimated at R$130m ($65m) per year. This follows similar cuts in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states.
Passengers of Gol, Brazil’s cash-strapped, second-biggest airline, should not be surprised in the coming days if their landings suddenly become a bit more… interesting.
That’s because the airline has announced a bonus for pilots and flight attendants if they can save fuel, possibly by eliminating some of the bells and whistles of comfortable flying.
2012 was a tough year for Gol, Brazil’s second-biggest airline. The company went through a series of job cuts, suffered net losses and was subject to rumours that it was about to be sold. The latter proved unfounded but what has not changed is that Gol’s financial results continue to disappoint.
Brazil’s problems with infrastructure are hardly news. The rise of a new lower middle class numbering more than 100m people is one source of the country’s recent economic miracle. But it has also led to crowded highways and packed flights. Last year, demand for flights increased 7.14 per cent, according to airlines, while the number of seats available rose less than half that.