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Brazil to quit Open Skies negotiations with the EU

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Brazil’s civil aviation regulator (Agencia Nacional de Aviacao – ANAC) is considering quitting negotiations with the European Union over a proposed Open Skies agreement in favour of revamping some existing bilateral agreements with the bloc’s member states.

“We are considering ending the negotiations because they are not going anywhere,” ANAC director Juliano Noman told the news agency.

The negotiations started eight years ago but recently stalled over the granting of 5th Freedom traffic rights to Brazilian carriers to carry EU-originating passengers to the Far East. While this issue is seen as crucial to Brazil’s interests, the EU is unwilling to concede any ground given it could mean increased competition for European carriers.

Earlier this week, the Brazilian House of Representatives greenlit an Open Skies agreement with the United States which, if approved and ratified by both countries’ governments as is, will grant Brazilian airlines 5th Freedom rights to operate to the Far East with an intermediate stop on the US West Coast.

Noman underlined that traffic to and from China will be crucial for Brazil’s economic growth and that he wants to allow Brazilian carriers to expand in that direction. Currently, there is no direct connection between Brazil and eastern Asia.

Open Skies deals with major partners around the world are one of the crucial aspects of the current EU Aviation Strategy.

Such an agreement would also boost direct transatlantic traffic between Brazil and Europe. According to the ch-aviation capacity module, this market is currently served predominantly by TAP Portugal which operates passenger services out of Lisbon to twelve Brazilian airports, mostly Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Rio de Janeiro Int’l.

The Portuguese carrier operates seventy-three weekly flights to Brazil and has been relying on provisional authorisation from ANAC as it has reached its formal limits on the number of flights it may operate, Reuters said.

Other major players in the EU-Brazil market include LATAM Airlines Brasil with thirty-five weekly passenger flights, Air France with twenty-one and Alitalia with seventeen. Aside from LATAM, the only other Brazilian carrier flying to the EU is Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras with six weekly departures from Campinas Viracopos to Lisbon.